About this Research Topic
One problem is that executive dysfunction or dysexecutive syndrome (Baddeley & Wilson, 1988) after brain injury typically produces a constellation of deficits across social, cognate, emotional and motivational domains that rarely map neatly onto theoretical frameworks (Barker, Andrade & Romanowski, 2004). As a consequence there is debate that conceptual theories of executive function do not always correspond well to the clinical picture (Manchester, Priestley & Jackson, 2004). Several studies have reported cases of individuals with frontal lobe pathology and impaired daily functioning despite having little detectable impairment on traditional tests of executive function (Shallice & Burgess, 1991; Eslinger & Damasio, 1985; Barker, Andrade & Romanowski, 2004; Andrés & Van der Linden, 2002; Chevignard et al., 2000; Cripe, 1998; Fortin, Godbout & Braun, 2003). There is also some suggestion that weak ecological validity limits predictive and clinical utility of many traditional measures of executive function (Burgess et al, 2006; Lamberts, Evans & Spikman, 2010; Barker, Morton, Morrison, McGuire, 2011). Complete elimination of environmental confounds runs the risk of generating results that cannot be generalized beyond constrained circumstances of the test environment (Barker, Andrade & Romanowski, 2004). Several researchers have concluded that a new approach is needed that is mindful of the needs of the clinician yet also informed by the academic debate and progress within the discipline (McFarquhar & Barker, 2012; Burgess et al., 2006). Finally, translational issues also confound executive function research across different disciplines (psychiatry, cognitive science, and developmental psychology) and across typically developing and clinical populations (including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Head Injury and Schizophrenia – Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006; Taylor, Barker, Heavey & McHale, 2013). Consequently, there is a need for unification of executive function approaches across disciplines and populations and narrowing of the conceptual gap between theoretical positions, clinical symptoms and measurement.
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