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Effects of age on executive functioning
Executive functioning refers to a set of cognitive abilities that primarily regulates the behavior of other people (Morgan & Lilienfeld, 2000). Basically, executive functioning denotes high level abilities that affect basic abilities such as attention. Executive functioning controls memory abilities as it's allows persons to employ effective strategies that help them to remember information. Executive functioning is therefore imperative for the performance of real life situations. Deficits in executive functioning are thus associated with developmental and psychiatric disorders, such as autism, depression, ADHD among other mental disorders (Buckner, 2009).
According to research, age affects the several facets of executive functioning. Executive functioning appears to decline among older people. This is because of the fact that most of their cognitive abilities are usually impaired or slow to respond to stimuli (Jahanshahi et al., 2000). Response among old aged people is always slow, hence impacting negatively on their executive functioning abilities. On the other hand, the young are often quick to recognize things much faster than the old people.
Furthermore, old people are more likely to be depressed thus affecting their executive functioning abilities. Depression usually affects the ability of the mind to respond to certain stimuli (Meltzer, 2007). Executive functioning is mostly affected by mental disorders and other developmental and psychiatric disorders s earlier mentioned. While it is a known fact that older people are more vulnerable to depression than younger people, it is important to note therefore that depression affects Executive functioning, hence will affect older people than the younger generation.
The young are considered to be very active compared to the older people. Therefore, they are likely to be active in thinking and in performing most of their daily chores. This vigor helps the brains of the young to develop faster than their older counterparts and as such develop their executive functioning. On the contrary, old people are bound to be slow to respond; hence they are likely to be slow in their executive functioning.
Older persons have better judgment than the youth. This therefore affects the decisions that they make. Executive functioning aids in the determination of decisions that individuals make. There is an old saying that, 'old people are wise.' Based on this saying, we can therefore assume that the brains of the older people are more developed and hence can process information better than the youth.
Most people experience the need to express themselves or utter certain words within a social gathering or setting. Some of these words may get them into trouble. However, it is their Executive functioning that will determine whether they utter certain words or not. Therefore, younger people will almost utter anything with very little regard to the audience. On the other hand, older people will measure the weight of their perceived speech before uttering using their executive functioning and hence determine whether it is worth mentioning or not (Pennington et al., 2008). Hence, age affects executive functioning considerably as it dictates the extent of the use of executive functioning in deciding whether to say certain things or not. Executive functioning therefore helps us to fit into the society with much ease. Older people fit in within their older networks. The reverse is true.
Since executive functioning governs most of the low level activities such as remembering information, age plays a vital role in establishing the extent of memory usage. For instance, older people have more developed brain capacity and are therefore bound to remember more aspects than younger people. Moreover, younger people tend to be forgetful. This is because of their brain development which is still at its tender stages compared to the brains of the older folks.
In addition, statistics indicate that more youth engage in drug and substance abuse than older people. Substance abuse impairs the brain's capacity to thinks and store memory. The long-term consequence of this is that it impairs the executive functioning of the brain (Richeson & Sophie, 2000). Hence age affects executive functioning in this manner. In fact, more anti-social behavior is evident among younger people than older people. This is mainly due to the use of drugs which cause them to behave in a certain undesired manner. Executive functioning would ensure that the young do not engage in undesirable social behavior. However, the use of drug substances such as heroine impairs executive functioning completely thus the young cannot be able to tell what is good from that which is bad. The old can however be able to succinctly identify undesired social behavior out rightly.
Furthermore, the young are more involved in risky ventures which are bound to bring about brain damage. On the contrary, older persons are calmer in their daily lifestyles and are less vulnerable to injury emanating from their daily routine (Willcutt et al., 2009). As such brain damage may cause the malfunctioning of the executive functioning of the brain.
Executive functioning is associated with high level processing abilities. According to Wecker et al (2000), most of the Executive functions do not normally develop until one reaches or attains adolescent. Therefore, persons aged younger than the adolescent age usually exhibit lesser Executive functioning abilities. For instance, a child aged 12 would not concentrate longer in class and be able to make inferences at the same time. Likewise, the child aged 12 would not be able to pronounce words fluently when subjected to the verbal fluency test.
On the other hand, older people and adolescents have well developed executive functions. They are therefore able to effectively use their high level abilities to reach to a conclusion or make a formidable decision, unlike the child aged 12. It must be remembered that in very old people, their executive functions is usually impaired and thus cannot be able to use their high level processing abilities with much efficiency (Kodituwakku, 2001). This therefore implies that, age is important in determining the use of executive functions.
Attention deficit disorders and autism are most common mental disorders among children. These disorders cause the Executive functioning deficits. What this therefore means is that executive functioning deficits are more predominant among children than in adults. Hence, such disorders being virulent among children will mean that the executive functions of children will be relatively lower than that of adults.
In conclusion therefore, executive functioning is affected by drug and substance abuse which is common among the youth. Older people are therefore able to make use of their high level abilities which is a characteristic of executive functioning (Meltzer, 2007). On the other hand, high level abilities does not usually develop until the child reaches adolescent, hence reinforcing the fact that executive functioning is affected by age.
It is also true that depression and other mental disorders cause executive functioning deficits; which are predominant among children. Disorders such as autism and inattentiveness or hyperactivity affect a person's ability to use their high level abilities. Such people cannot be able to remember or memorize information for long. Therefore age influences executive functioning to a great extent.
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