On several occasions we have talked about executive functions and theirs importance in school learning. We also talked about how maybe it would be possible to upgrade them, either after brain injury acquired either in the school environment.
In the past, some scholars have divided executive functions into two macro areas: "cold" executive functions and "hot" executive functions.[2]: in the first case it is those components more related to the processing of information at an abstract level (for example, working memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility and planning), while in the second case it refers to the relative ability emotional and behavioral control (for example, the ability to postpone gratification and manage emotions).
Speaking of hot executive functions, by definition, it is natural to think of their relationship with aggressive behaviors, especially where they are lacking. A group of German researchers[1] instead he thought to investigate the relationship between executive functions cold and different types of aggressive behavior.


Specifically, they monitored a group of primary school children for three years, initially assessing theirinhibition working memory cognitive flexibility and the ability to planning. Over the three years, the teachers of the children were instructed to evaluate their aggressive behavior by dividing them into:

  1. Assaults physical
  2. Assaults relational
  3. Assaults reactive (in response to provocations)
  4. Assaults proactive (planned aggressive behaviors, not resulting from provocations)

why this "anomaly"?

According to the researchers, reactive behaviors would depend on an inability to control impulses and, in this sense, would have a relationship with the lack of executive functions; proactive attacks, however, require planning and consequently they are more difficult to implement without adequate efficiency of the executive functions.

Future developments

From these results undoubtedly derives the need to study whether cognitive training aimed at strengthening executive functions can lead to greater control of emotions and impulsive responses, leading to a decrease in aggressive behavior.

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