executive function


: the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior
The biggest impacts, she says, are in enhancing what's known as executive function—the ability to perform complex tasks that rely on planning or decision making.Janet Raloff
also : one of these complex mental processes
But a new study reports that soccer players actually have superior executive functions, the brain processes responsible for planning and abstract thinking. Sindya N. Bhanoo
executive functioning noun
Measures of attention, hyperactivity, and executive functioning (the ability to process feedback, interpret life's good and bad moments, and react in an appropriate way to events) were based on reports from parents and teachers … David Kirby

Examples of executive function in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There’s our prefrontal cortex, this sort of seat of executive function that makes rational decisions. Katie Bain, Billboard, 22 May 2024 Psychological trauma also can cause problems with attention and executive function. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 10 May 2024 The women also performed better on a test measuring for executive function after their weight loss procedures. Lauryn Higgins, Health, 16 Apr. 2024 Adderall alternatives are typically natural substances that may improve executive function without the side effects of Adderall. Sponsored Content, The Mercury News, 12 Apr. 2024 The connections between his brain’s frontal lobes, which are responsible for executive function, and the parts of the brain that generate fear, anger, impulsiveness and violence were badly frayed. Dave Philipps, New York Times, 8 Mar. 2024 Teenagers have an abundance of neural pathways, more than what is actually needed to exercise executive function and cognitive control. Dr. Aviva Legatt, Forbes, 27 Nov. 2023 Targeting specific executive functioning weaknesses, ADHD medication is not a cure-all. Emily Edlynn, Parents, 7 Nov. 2023 Several issues cause travel to be particularly stressful for people with ADHD—such as struggling with executive function, time blindness, and working memory. Anita Bhagwandas, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'executive function.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1972, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of executive function was in 1972

Dictionary Entries Near executive function

Cite this Entry

“Executive function.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/executive%20function. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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