What have we learned from cognitive and physiological psychology [or Psychologists] in the investigation of Executive Functioning in ONE of the domains listed below:

What have we learned from cognitive and physiological psychology [or Psychologists] in the investigation of Executive Functioning in ONE of the domains listed below:

  1. Survival Research
  2. Eating Disorders
  3. Ageing
  4. ADHD
  5. Autism
  6. Dyslexia
  7. Criminal Behaviour
  8. Sport
  9. Relationships
  10. Student’s own selection of domain [not illicit drug use – because it is the subject of the example essay on blackboard]

You will be provided with SOME materials via Blackboard.  Three book chapters from Goldstein and Naglieri (2014), Handbook of Executive Functioning, Springer, and an article relating to the frontal lobes by Andy Wickens. The book chapters and article provide you with an overview of executive functioning generally (history, definitions, some models), together with an explanation of the physiology of executive functioning.  You have been provided with a choice of 10 areas or domains [areas], to enable you to reach your full potential with this piece of coursework.  You will need to search for your own articles using UCLAN library e-resources.  Look for ones that are as recent as possible [2017, 2018, 2019 or in press].  Meta-analytic review articles are particularly good if you can find ones that are directly relevant.  You will need to combine search terms to find articles [e.g., executive functioning and anorexia, executive functioning and bulimia, etc.].  On average, around 5 articles would be good [but you can use more if you wish].  

If we use eating disorders as an example, and then narrow that down to anorexia nervosa, your aim is to inform the reader whether people with this disorder display deficits in terms of their executive functioning.  If they do, what aspects of executive functioning are affected, why this may be happening [e.g., alterations to the frontal lobes], and what real world implications might this have for them [how might this affect them in terms of functioning on a day-to-day basis.  Executive functioning is really an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.  The BRIEF-A measures self-reported executive functioning capabilities in everyday life, and its sub-scales are as follows: Inhibit, Self-Monitor, Plan/Organize, Shift, Initiate, Task Monitor, Emotional Control, Working Memory, and Organization of Materials.  Within the laboratory setting, many tasks have been devised by cognitive psychologists to measure different aspects of executive functioning: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887617707001928  Physiological psychologists use the above mentioned [self-report and laboratory] measures of executive functioning, but their main goal is to try to explain why deficits in executive functioning occur, in different populations.  They do this using psychophysiological and neurological measurement [brain scans].

The School of Psychology Assessment Handbook (available within the Blackboard PS2030 module link under the Module Information tab on the left hand side) will supply you with essential information (formatting, referencing, and marking criteria).

10 TIPS: Remember to:

  • Apply a stringent structure to your essay, with a powerful opening paragraph. The opening paragraph should reiterate the question [inform the reader what you think the question is asking you to do], define any terms [e.g., executive functioning is…. The DSM-V criteria for anorexia nervosa are…….  You might want to write something briefly about the negative aspects of the disorder/condition you have selected, so that the reader understands why the study of the disorder is important.  You should also signpost your reader through the essay (i.e., inform them what you will talk about and when in order to answer the question).  Ideally, all of the ‘background’ information should be dealt with in the first paragraph.  By paragraph 2 you should be ready to actually answer the question.
  • A strong closing paragraph is also needed, that pulls together the information you have presented, in order to answer the question that has been set. EG: Individuals with anorexia nervosa, who are severely underweight show the following executive functioning deficits:………………………………..  However, once weight restored, deficits in the domains of……………………………..no longer exist.  This suggests that………….  In relation to executive dysfunctioning within anorexia nervosa, from cognitive psychologists we have learned…………….  From physiological psychologists we have learned……..
  • Try to be critical when talking about published work, rather than just describing the method and findings.
  • Include any relevant theoretical models and talk about the implications of the published findings for the model(s).
  • Talk about the implications of the research you review (e.g., the study of executive functioning using laboratory tasks might have an implication for types of training needed in specific survival situations, or a review linked to bulimia nervosa might suggest the need for specific interventions to improve working memory).
  • Back up the information you present throughout your essay with references.
  • Stick to the 2000 word limit – DO NOT go over – your marker will stop marking at 2000 words.
  • Focus on the essay question throughout (i.e., link the information you present to the essay question frequently).
  • Ensure that the material you present is relevant and focused on answering the question (e.g., spending half of the essay outlining the abundant number of different definitions of executive functioning that have been offered over time would be the wrong thing to do).
  • Try not to use quotations, but rather to paraphrase (i.e., put information written by others into your own words in order to demonstrate your understanding of their material).
  • Use the TEST TURNITIN LINK before you submit your essay. You will find this within blackboard – School of Psychology Student Office link [right hand side of the page] then the test turnitin link is on the left….
  • Extensions and ECs should be applied for via foster hub. The assessment handbook contains more information about these processes, as well as the marking guidelines, used by staff for grade your work.
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