Natura, mechanizmy neurofizjologiczne i zmiany rozwojowe funkcji zarządzających
Nature, neurophysiological mechanisms and developmental changes of executive functions
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The paper presents an overview of basic issues related to executive functions, the phenomenon being the center of interest to psychologists at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, discussed from the historical, neurophysiological and ontogenetic perspectives. It gives basic information about the history of research on the executive functions and their neurophysiological correlates. At fi rst, the research focused on the function of the frontal cortex, which was thought to organize intellectual activity in adults with damage to that part of the brain. Studies in the ontogenetic paradigm have helped to explain the genesis of the executive functions, their complex nature, developmental changes and critical periods. They have also contributed to determining the relationship between the executive functions and other cognitive processes, such as theories of mind, or emotional processes, and to revealing the environmental conditions. The paper describes the complex nature of the executive functions, indicating the fixed components: inhibition, flexibility, working memory and planning, and presents psychological testing methods, pointing out the most commonly used techniques. The authors refer both to foreign and Polish authors studying groups of participants developing normally or with disorders in different periods of development, and they note the cognitive and the practical aspects of research on the executive functions.
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