The brain, with more than 100 billion cells and perhaps billions of connections creates neural networks that permit individuals to understand, discriminate, and integrate sensory information, with previously learned information, and respond appropriately. Networks of cells are dedicated to one or more discrete cognitive tasks. As one rises up through the brain from the brain stem to the frontal cortex, more and more complex interactions between networks separate humans from lower level mammals. All networks do not develop equally in all individuals (i.e., everyone does not possess the same neural structure or network efficiency as other individuals). Variations in the individual structure and sophistication (strengths and weaknesses of specific networks) drive one’s ability to manage tasks presented to them from moment-to-moment.
Understanding and developing executive function skills modulated by the frontal cortex are critical in managing life’s demands in the presence of static, which is created by difficulties in the systems that modulate sensory information (subcortical systems) and/or weaknesses in one’s core ability to manage emotional regulation (i.e., anxiety, negative moods, mood changes/volatility, etc.).
One’s ability to develop social skills, executive function skills, and manage emotional regulation, is a direct outcome of the circuitry of the individual brain and its appropriateness to match the demands placed on the brain from moment-to-moment. Understanding the basics of how cognition (brain networks) drives behaviors will empower a participant. This is particularly valuable insight in that as one gets older, the frontal cortex should evolve, allowing them to be more proactive, rather than reactive in responding appropriately to educational challenges at a college level, and managing independent living skills.