Executive Functions - Collaborative problem solving , ADHD and motivation

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Allan-Matlem, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    Ef disfunction is found across many childhood disorders. Russel Barkley sees EF as fundemental to ADHD.

    In my blog I share check lists of EF. The collaborative problem solving approach promotes these skills through problem solving .

    Executive functions and CPS - collaborative problem solving - there are links to the executive and other cognitive functions checklists


    As far as medication goes , Barkley says it helps , as his definition of EF revolves around inhibition and self control. Others think otherwise . The drug use for ADHD have minimal impact on executive test performance according to Seidman's 2006 review. Perhaps these drugs helping indirectly via overall improvement in concentration, although I don’t know if any study investigated this issue

    I revisited the Barkley lecture . He talks about lack of inhibition afffecting 4 EFs including making private emotion which is the source of intrinsic motivation . ADHD kids need extrinsic motivation to compensate . He does admit that rewards etc don't generalize.

    SDT theory and research show that extrinsic motivation undermines intrinsic motivation and there is new MRI research showing that when the brain is operating with the knowledge of a possible reward it shuts off those parts of the brain used for voluntary and self initiating activity - expressions of intrinsic motivation.

    While I think Barkley's theoretical justification of behavior modification sounds brilliant , it is flawed.

  2. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Hi Allan.

    EF's are one of my favorite topics. Both my kids have diagnosis and labels, but I always think of them as having Executive Function Disorder. I think I stole this term from Fran who used to use it in her sig line.

    My gfg13 got a lot of D's and F's the past school term. 13 is on Adderall LA, still with D's and F's, homework refusal. Yet recently he played chess with husband and the game lasted 1 1/2 hrs! For most of the time, difficult child had three chess pieces left, and evaded his dad for at least an hour. Dad had about ten chess pieces left. And husband takes no prisoners in chess (unless he is teaching the boys, then he lets up a little).

    I can't imagine all the EF's that difficult child is using to play chess, the ultimate game of planning, implementing and evaluating. Holding the vision of the chess pieces in his working memory. Motivated to hold off his dad even though it was likely that he would lose with only three men.

    I was very heartened to realize that difficult child does have these skills.

    I take Adderall for ADD -- it helps me with initiation of a task and once I begin the task, I remain organized and motivated to complete it. I think the motivation, however, comes with being an adult -- it would be different if I was a kid in school facing all those tasks in a boring classroom. Along with being motivated, I can anticipate the satisfaction I will feel when the job is done. Even if it's a job I don't like, like housework, I know I will feel more energized with a clean house and that I will function better.

    "when the brain is operating with the knowledge of a possible reward it shuts off those parts of the brain used for voluntary and self initiating activity"

    Interesting. So when difficult child is playing chess with dad, the reward is occurring immediately and not in terms of a "possible" reward -- he's already holding dad off, and whether or not difficult child wins or loses, he knows he's going to give a legendary chess player a run for his money. Same with me -- when I'm doing a task like housework, it's not a possible reward I'm anticipating -- it's a sure thing.

  3. Fran

    Fran Former Site Owner

    Executive function deficit is my difficult child's biggest stumbling block for independent living. It doesn't get the "press" other labels get. I'm not sure why since it has sabotaged difficult child's life at many points in his life.
    He, like barney'smom son, can hyper focus when the need arises and is self chosen. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to sustain it for boring tasks like house work, school work etc.
    I need to refresh my knowledge base since I burned out a few years ago and stopped reading updated info. Maybe this will resurrect my passion to help difficult child find his way in the world.
  4. whatamess

    whatamess New Member

    Because reward systems were misused in my difficult child's school experience, we have it written in the IEP that there will be no token economies with him. This has meant academics are pared down and completed at a snails pace. It has also meant he doesn't meltdown (as often). It also means he is accomplishing the tasks for the sake of the task or better yet- to please his teacher. Every time he works on a task simply because he was asked or to please others instead of for a reward, I feel like he is moving toward becoming more functional and independent. The flip side, as I mentioned above, is that the workload is far below his capability. I constantly weigh whether a 'bribe' is useful just to keep him moving along academically or if it is detrimental to his overall intrinsic motivation. It took two years for him to stop saying "if you give me __________, then I will _____________".
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    SDT theory and research show that extrinsic motivation undermines intrinsic motivation and there is new MRI research showing that when the brain is operating with the knowledge of a possible reward it shuts off those parts of the brain used for voluntary and self initiating activity - expressions of intrinsic motivation.

    While I think Barkley's theoretical justification of behavior modification sounds brilliant , it is flawed.

    Why do you think it is flawed? If MRIs show that the voluntary/self-intrinsic part of the brain shuts down when a reward is promised, why is that? And is it only with-Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) ... or does it happen with-NTs, as well?
    This area of research needs to be expanded. This is a huge discovery and I, for one, suspected this all along. What I don't know is WHY. Of course if I did, then I would win the next Nobel. ;):smug:
    Perhaps it is just because it is easier for the brain to process a reward than a difficult task. But that implies a primitive brain, like a chicken or a dog. The thing that makes humans and few other animals unique is the willingness to want to work hard, mentally or emotionally, regardless of reward.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Allan, the link is broken.
    Can you retype it?

    Never mind... it works when I click on the link in your original note, but not in mine. Whatever.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ah, I think I just answered my own question, at least in terms of clinical observation.
    And I both agree and disagree with-you.

    From the Self Determined theory site ' Some of the most surprising insights to emerge from SDT research call into question the traditional use of incentives. For example, behavioral research has shown that extrinsic rewards, like money or grades, actually undermine a person's interest in voluntarily engaging in a task. In short, rewards can backfire.
    Kou Murayama from the University of Munich, Germany explored the neurobiology underlying this counterintuitive finding at the conference. In a recent study, Murayama and his colleagues scanned the brains of participants before and after completing a timed task. One group of participants was promised a reward. A second group performed the task with no incentive, although afterward they were surprised with compensation.
    Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the study showed that entirely different areas of the brain are activated by the same task depending on whether a person anticipates a payoff or not. When focused on a reward, the brain switches off those areas associated with voluntary or self-initiated activities. '
    in my humble opinion there maybe a developmental delay , but the lack of intrinsic motivation has more to do about the boring and uneganging nature of school and the parenting strategies of reward and punishments. Education and Parenting that supports children's autonomy - ( not independence but interdependence ) helps them be more self determined more intrinsically motivated. SDT says that 3 needs - autonomy , competence , relatendness facilitate intrinsic motivation and being determined


    I think that medications, used WITH conditioning and interdependence, will provide the needed changes permanently IF the tasks are done repetitively and the rewards are given inconsistently.

    Inconsistent rewards work best with-animals and humans. It has been proven that if rewards are always given to animals, they are the only motivation. I hate to compare dog training with-humans (even Dr. Rosemond hates comparing dog training and human conditioning, but WTH) but in many respects, the parallels are unmistakable.

    In addition, even with-a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) child, rewards can become boring or the individual can outgrow them. Use stickers, for example. What worked at age 5 may not work at age 20, depending upon the severity of the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). At some point, the individual will either say, "Forget it, I'm not doing this any more, it's boring and the reward is boring," or "Never mind, the reward is boring but I'll do it anyway." (Perhaps this is where you and I agree, and it could be a matter of maturity or at the very least, expediency.)

    medications calm the individual's frontal lobes (I am specifically talking about Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) here, in regard to frontal lobes) and allow the individual to more accurately and efficiently assess the situation and thus, perform properly. The more the individual performs the task at hand, the more pathways they are actually creating in their brains--NEW pathways that need to be created and maintained.

    with-o medications, quite often the individual is too fragmented to understand, interpret, and incorporate the instructions and changes, so any teaching, methods or tasks are lost or wasted.

    Thank you for an intriguing post and food for thought.
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Whatamess, yours is a perfect example of what can go wrong and why. I am so sorry. But it sounds like you are working in the right direction. For every setback, there is a solution. (Just call me Pollyanna.:D)
  9. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    Fran, I also became interested on EF's because they don't get the press, but underlie so many stumbling blocks. I think EF difficulty is such a disabler of minds!

    I remember the first time I ever heard of EF's was in Ross Green's book which was recommended on this site. I read those pages over and over and still didn't get it. I have a better understanding of them now, but it took awhile. Allan's post usually have something to do with EF and I keep a folder with EF articles as I come across them.

    Terry -- interesting in one of those links from Allan -- it said part of the brain (it's an obvious part, but I can't remember which one) is programmed via evolution to go on big dramatic hunts for food. But that part of the brain hasn't evolved with technology to do the "puny" tasks often required today (like heat up a microwave dinner), and so that part of the brain shuts down. I was thinking of that being related to boredom and refusal to do certain tasks, and lack of motivation.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    wm has horrendous EF issues; yet that seems to be the bottom of the barrel issue when it comes to treatment team. I reiterated for years that he needs this to "put the brakes on" if you will.

    Fran, I remember so many times your frustrations with your difficult children issues in that area.

    The reward system for wm (& kt for that matter) played itself out years ago. For wm, the reward (usually from school store) was the "icon of the day" & then lost or destroyed.
  11. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member


    Well school is coming. I ordered Ross Greene's book "Lost at School." Also I was reading over at the Think:Kids website that Allan recommended and they have some excellent (free) worksheets to evaluate our kids' EF's and other cognitive functions (Allan also posted them in a link to his blog -- above). At first the forms were overwhelming -- I downloaded them when Allan first posted them. But reading back over them, they are not intimidating and will be useful to fine-tune what skills are lacking, thereby resulting in rage, homework refusal etc.
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Ross Greene's book "Lost at School."

    Somehow, I missed this. Looks interesting.