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ADHD and Frontal Lobe Dysfunction

Abstract: Is ADHD caused by frontal lobe dysfunction? What is the influence of frontal lobe dysfunction? What are executive functions?

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ADHD and Frontal Lobe Dysfunction

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

Is ADHD caused by frontal lobe dysfunction? What is the influence of frontal lobe dysfunction? What are executive functions?


The frontal lobe of the brain is a very important part of a complex cognitive processing system, and has many connections to different areas of the brain. It has a special role in planning and organising different tasks like a "supervisor". Many aspects of everyday life are mainly controlled by the frontal lobe system:
  • Decision-making and planning of new situations
  • Error detection and correction and developing plans for trouble-shooting
  • Technically difficult or new situations with demand for new solutions
  • Resisting temptations and habitual responses
  • Impulse control and dealing with frustrations
Thus intention, planning and goal directed behaviour are mainly controlled by the frontal lobe. These higher cognitive functions of the brain are also called "executive functions": They are necessary to set goals, plan to achieve them, carry out plans and directions and maintain interest and efforts to finish a task.

Impairments of the executive functions will cause severe problems to adapt to new situations.

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