Unity and Diversity of Dysexecutive Syndromes

  • Mauricio A. Garcia-BarreraEmail author


The nature of executive functioning remains a wonder and a mystery in Neuropsychology. To better understand how it may be impaired by brain damage, it is worth exploring first how is the term “executive function” defined and what are the processes that may comprise this central control system. Most of the discussion about executive function focuses on its unity and diverse nature, and how it may differ from overall cognitive processing or “intelligence.” From historical meetings to recent studies, researchers have attempted to piece apart the elements that form the whole, progressing from the logic “unity or diversity” to the logic “unity and diversity.” This chapter discusses the developmental fractionation of executive function observed in behavioral task performances, as well as the establishment of specialized neural networks supporting executive functioning in the course of development. Although far from reaching parsimony, several taxonomies that have attempted to reduce the number of executive functions to the bare core are also discussed here. The impact of latent variable analysis, such as confirmatory factor analysis, is worth noting when examining the trajectory of our understanding of this construct in the last two decades. Finally, this chapter discusses the question, is there evidence supporting the existence of one dysexecutive syndrome, or is there a range of possible executive dysfunctions that could be clustered into syndromes?


Executive function Prefrontal cortex Frontal lobes Dysexecutive syndromes Executive dysfunction 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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