Executive functions

cerveau-rapidite traitement fonctions cognitives

Executive functions are a set of high-level cognitive processes that allow us to accomplish complex tasks and activities or to solve problems.

Executive functions also allow us to automate certain tasks. This automation allows our brain to focus its attention on the more complicated elements without making efforts for the simpler ones.

These skills are considered by experts to be the biological foundation of learning.


What is an executive function?

Executive functions are the mental mechanisms that allow us to control our thoughts, actions and emotions.

They allow us to function, to be able to carry out in the world what our intelligence commands. Indeed, when we have a good memory, a good control of ourselves and a good flexibility, we can act successfully.

When we have to solve a task or a problem, we use our executive functions. Our brain is able to take all the information from the environment and all the information we already have. Then, it elaborates this information to find the best strategy and, finally, to implement the chosen strategy.

In addition, we can do automatic activities. This allows our brain to use its attentional resources on other elements. For example, learning to ride a bike may take time, but once you learn it, it is something you do without thinking about it. While riding a bike you don’t focus on how to move your legs or keep your balance, but only on the environment and the road.


Executive function disorders

Executive dysfunction occurs when the filtering of environmental stimuli is difficult or impossible. These disorders can be linked to pathologies or to a head trauma.

The quality of life of a person with executive dysfunction is greatly impacted by these difficulties. The disorders can affect the cognitive functions or the behavior of the person who may have difficulty adapting to new situations.

Symptoms may include an inability to plan a strategy or organize steps to follow. Another difficulty is related to memory, which can manifest itself with a forgetfulness of the steps to follow or an inability to elaborate information in the immediate future. Finally, we can see that the person will have a mental inflexibility, so he or she will have difficulties in changing his or her reasoning, in looking for other solutions or in correcting himself or herself.

At the behavioral level, the disorder manifests itself with motor agitation and verbal or motor impulsiveness.


Exercises to improve executive functions

There are several activities to train cognitive functions. You can play puzzle games or logic games (crossword, sudoku…). These activities allow you to look for strategies, plan actions in a logical order or adapt to feedback.

Card games are very useful since you need to remember information immediately, such as which cards have already been drawn during the game.

Our games to work on executive functions

Coco Appli Table Game Child
  • Crazy Chessboard
  • Crazy Waterfall
  • Simili
  • Hunting Intruders
  • Puzzle Plus
  • Shooting Stars
  • ColorMind
  • Brainstorm
  • A Card A Date
Scarlett Appli Tablet Adult Game Dynseo
  • Crazy Chessboard
  • Crazy Waterfall
  • Simili
  • Hunting Intruders
  • Puzzle Plus
  • Bubble Link
  • ColorMind
  • Brainstorm
  • A Card A Date
Clint Appli Tablet Adult Game
  • Crazy Chessboard
  • Crazy Waterfall
  • Simili
  • Hunting Intruders
  • Puzzle Plus
  • ColorMind
  • Brainstorm
  • A Card A Date

In general, we can say that the executive functions are based on 4 concepts:


1. Mental flexibility

This function defines the ability to change task or mental strategy, and to switch from one cognitive operation to another.

Before an activity, we think of the best solution to implement, but during the activity we may need to change strategies. We adapt our behavior according to the feedback we receive or the new elements that may come into play.

This skill allows us to adapt, to not stay focused only on one solution but to analyze several possibilities.


In this game, the person has to combine the syllables to create words.

You have to think of all the possible combinations and therefore change the syllables to be used several times. There are several possible strategies that can be changed during the game.


2. Managing thoughts and emotions

With our autobiographical memory, we can recreate the context in which an event takes place.

Creating a context helps us to have more coherent and accurate memories. Creating an environmental context also allows us to increase the information related to an event, and thus to be able to retrieve other memories and information.

Granny Cooks

In this game, the person has to memorize the ingredients of a recipe.

You have to manage your thoughts well, because you have to think about the proposed ingredients, taking into account that you can know a variation of this recipe with other ingredients.

You have to select which thought you want to follow.


3. Inhibition

Inhibition refers to a series of mechanisms that allow the suppression of inappropriate actions and the resistance to interference from irrelevant information. It is an automatic sorting of information that could hinder the success of our action.

The neuropsychologists Degiorgio C. Fery P. Polus B. Watelet A. tell us more about executive functions.

Inhibition allows us to avoid actions or instinctive behaviors that will be inappropriate in a certain context.

Moles Invasion

In this game the person has to touch the moles that appear on the screen.

During the game there are different types of moles that can appear: the normal mole to tap once, the mole with the helmet to tap twice and the mole with the glasses not to touch.


In addition to paying attention to the appearance of the stimulus, the person must also recognize the type of stimulus and act accordingly. Thus, we must take different actions with the two tapping moles, but we must inhibit our action with the spyglass mole.


4. Problem solving

We have seen that the executive functions come into play to find the solution to the problem, this is called problem solving.

Indeed, when we face a problem, the executive functions allow us to collect all the information, and to gather it to find the right solution. Often, there are several possible solutions, but thanks to the cognitive functions, we can find the fastest and most efficient solution.

Congested Parking 

In this game you have to move the cars to get the yellow car out of the parking lot.

You have to think of all the possible combinations, imagine the effects of a move and therefore create a mental image of the sequence of movements to be made. Each game has a different starting situation, so you have to adapt to the elements presented.

congested parking for people after stroke








Scarlett Appli Tablet Adult Game

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