The Executive Functions (EF) are a set of mental processes that are responsible for the control and the monitoring of higher-level cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills, characterized by voluntary control processes and organized according to a goal oriented to problem solving. These functional modules of the mind regulate the planning, control and coordination processes of the cognitive system and govern the activation and modulation of cognitive schemes and processes.
The hierarchical model proposed by the authors highlights important aspects of executive functions involved in complex cognitive levels as the anticipation, the evaluation, the self-awareness and the decision making. The specific sub-domains, which constitute this set of regulation and control functions, include the ability to start a behavior, to inhibit actions or competing stimuli, to select, plan and organize solutions, flexibly change cognitive and behavioral strategies during the evaluation of the procedures used. It is worth noting that the executive functions are not exclusive of the operation and of cognitive control, but are involved in the regulation of the emotional and behavioral responses so fundamental in the development of the socialcognitive, emotional and relational capacity to adapt.