The Executive Control Center is the the director of brain activity and the epicenter of thinking, logic, reasoning, emotional management, and goal-directed persistence.

 
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The Executive Control Center

Director of Brain Activity 

The Executive Center is the conscious control system of the brain and the mechanism we use to direct our attention, behavior, reasoning, thinking, judgement, and decision making abilities. Activation of the executive center allows us to interfere with the more primitive, unconscious, and emotional parts of our brain, providing the opportunity to override pre-programmed behaviors and replace them with superior alternatives. The Executive System is the generator of top-down processing, and the key to planning and achieving personal goals and objectives.

The Immature Executive 

The Executive Center is the Last part of the Brain to Develop 

The last part of the brain to fully develop is the prefontal cortex, house of the executive control system. As the brain gradually matures, so does the level of mastery over reasoning, thinking, judgement and decision making. This is why young people are notorious for questionable decision making, and why bad habits are so easily developed. The later maturation of the executive center means that the more emotional, reactive, and unconscious parts of our brain are older, stronger and more influential than the mechanisms we use to control them. Intentional targeted development is necessary to foster the required cognitive control for personal success.

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Executive Thinking and Emotional Management

Cold, Cognitive, and Reflective 

The more emotional and unconscious parts of our brain can be thought of as a hot, quick, and reactive system, centered in a more primitive part of our brain. It develops early in childhood and is exacerbated by stress. The cool cognitive control system on the other hand, is thoughtful rather than emotional, complex, reflective, slow, centered in the frontal lobes and based on memory and experience. It develops later in childhood and is weakened by stress. In the Hot System, the stimulus controls us; in the Cool System we control the stimulus. Grit, perseverance and goal-directed persistence are developed and sustained through the Executive System.

 

Specific executive skills can be targeted for intentional development including: planning, prioritizing, organization, working memory, metacogntion, emotional management, task initiation, response inhibition, mental flexibility, motivation, and goal-directed persistence. Enhancing these specific skills gives one the tools for goal achievement and the assets for personal development.