Conceptualization and rehabilitation of executive functions: a review of the literature

Artemisa Rocha Dores, Irene Palmares Carvalho, Fernando Barbosa, Claúdia Martins, Liliana De Sousa, Alexandre Castro-Caldas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Publications on executive functions have increased in the last few years, reflecting the importance of this area of study. The scientific output on executive functions is now extremely diverse, comprising variations around terminology, assessment, and rehabilitation practices, and ranging in topics from neuroanatomical correlates of executive functions to effects of executive dysfunction. This review seeks to explore this diversity around executive functions in order to provide an integrative overview of the topic that systematizes the current knowledge in this area, and to point to trends and future directions for research and practice. The literature review was conducted in the ISI Web of Knowledge databases. The analysis was conducted in NVivo9. Two independent coders applied an inductive analysis to all relevant papers, building a hierarchical model with categories and subcategories of themes emerging from the literature. A confirmatory analysis followed, with the same independent coders applying the model to the papers. The process was validated by a third expert researcher. Out of 187 titles and abstracts, 91 were analyzed. The outcomes were structured in six main categories: central nervous system, diagnosis, population, assessment, intervention, and theoretical models. Key findings included promising trends in executive function assessment and rehabilitation as well as potential implications for current health approaches and future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Brain injuries
  • Executive function
  • Neuropsychological patients
  • Neuropsychological recovery
  • Review


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