This volume reflects the pressure to develop useful models and methodologies to study executive behaviour - the ability to update information in working memory in order to control selective attention to formulate plans of action and to monitor their efficient execution. Many models are based on the concept of a single "central executive" that manges these functions; others propose a number of independent "working memory systems" that each serve one task or activity but not others.; This book is a collection of essays by active researchers who discuss their own work on the definition of "executive" or "controlled" behaviours, and on the relation of these behaviours to specific areas of the frontal cortex. The papers are particularly concerned with logical difficulties that arise in defining these functions that lead, in turn, to methodological difficulties in studying them. In particular, they discuss such problems as the low test-re-test reliability of tasks that have been used to define and explore "executive" behaviours, the limited validity of these tasks in predicting performance deficits, the poor localization of the changes observed with respect to underlying brain function, and the relation of performance on these tasks to individual difference in performance on measures of "global" or "general" intellectual ability such as Spearman's 1927 gf.; The authors discuss their own research on the relations between cognitive function and neuropsychology, on changes in executive competence in conditions such as closed head injuries or dementias that may diffusely affect the whole brain, and on changes in executive function in normal old age.
Table of Contents
Testing central executive functioning with a pencil-and-paper test, A. Baddeley et al; theory and methodology in executive function research, P.W. Burgess; executive and non-executive functions in normal and pathological ageing - a neuroimaging investigation, J.K. Foster et al; sustained attention and the frontal lobes, T. Manley, I.H. Robertson; how specific are memory and other cognitive deficits caused by frontal lobe lesions? A.R. Mayes, I. Daum; normal age-related memory loss and its relation to frontal lobe dysfunction, A. J. Parkin; do "frontal tests" measure executive function? - issues and assessment and evidence from fluency tests, L.H. Phillips; a neural systems approach to the cognitive psychology of ageing - studies with CANTAB on large samples of the normal elderly population, T.W. Robbins et al; studies of executive function in normal old age, C. Askew, P. Rabbitt; behavioural assessment of the dysexecutive syndrome, B.A. Wilson.
'[T]he book offers many delights and is rewarding. Rabbitt has assembled a large and distinguished set of writers and, as might be expected, the scholarly standards are high. Rabbitt's introductory chapter in particular is a model of clarity warmly recommended.' - Review in British Journal of Development Psychology, Vol 17, Iss 4, 1999, by Ian Stuart-Hamilton, Worcester College of Higher Eduction.