Executive Function and Emotional Regulation

Executive Function is a term I first became familiar with in my 3rd year of studies. I was doing a practical in England, and British students who were placed in the same hospital where I was doing my practical were working with BADS. I was intrigued and a little intimidated.

My next meeting with Executive Function was in Israel, working in geriatric Rehabilitation, one of the therapist doing her PhD was working with BADS in a virtual reality lab. And then further exposure with an outpatient clinic with people post CVA and TBI (strokes and head injuries). BADS was used to evaluate and help define treatment goals.

And now I have been reading more about it as a parent, and informing myself on how to facilitate development of Executive Function, as opposed to rehabilitation of Executive Function.

So, definitions.

Executive Function is:

Executive functions is an umbrella term for cognitive processes that regulate, control, and manage other cognitive processes,[1] such as planning, working memoryattention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, multi-tasking, and initiation and monitoring of actions.[2]

Emotional Regulation is:

Emotional regulation is a complex process that involves initiating, inhibiting, or modulating ones state or behaviour in a given situation – for example the subjective experience (feelings), cognitive responses (thoughts), emotion-related physiological responses (for example heart rate or hormonal activity), and emotion-related behaviour (bodily actions or expressions).[2] Functionally, emotional regulation can also refer to processes such as the tendency to maintain attention on a task and the ability to suppress inappropriate behavior under instruction.[3]

Executive function and Emotional regulation are closely connected and interdependent. In short, it’s about modulating frustration/anxiety/emotion and applying yourself to the task at hand with minimal emotional distraction. Learning new tasks, drawing on past experiences and enriching them with new experience.

There is no scientific study that I am aware of that studies the effects of handwork on executive function or emotional regulation.  I have associated the two based on personal experience and observation. In other words I am presenting anecdotal evidence. I hope one day there will be data to support how handwork can support the development of Executive function and Emotional Regualtion.



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