August 27, 2016
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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Teens (cont.)

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How does ADHD in teens affect executive function?

The frontal lobes of the brain are located directly behind the forehead and are not felt to be functionally fully mature until an individual is 22-25 years of age. A major role of this brain region is to provide executive function. While older teens generally do not have fully matured frontal lobes, adolescents with ADHD may carry an extra burden of less maturity of this region and thus have even more problems with executive function.

The basic task of executive function is to facilitate formulation and execution of a plan to achieve a goal. Executive function involves the ability to manage several tasks. These include time management, ignoring unnecessary (extraneous) information, switching focus from one task to another, planning and organizing tasks to achieve a goal, remembering details, controlling inappropriate speech and/or behaviors, and integrating past experiences with the current task at hand. Specialists in human behavior subdivide executive function into two elements:

  1. Organization: "gathering information and structuring it for evaluation"
  2. Regulation: "taking stock of the environment and changing behavior in response to it"

An example of utilizing executive function might take place at dessert time in a restaurant. A large piece of chocolate cake is enticing, and the memory of prior pieces of chocolate cake provides a temptation (organization). However, remembering the excessive amount of calories the cake provides and your desire to lose 5 pounds enables you to skip dessert (regulation).

Teens with poorly managed executive function will commonly have problems with planning projects, memorizing information and integrating it into a subject area, estimating the time necessary to complete a project, and initiating and coordinating activities or tasks.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/22/2015


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