Executive functions is an umbrella term for cognitive processes that regulate, control, and manage other cognitive processes, such as planning, working memory, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, task switching, and initiation and monitoring of actions. The executive system is a theorized cognitive system in psychology that controls and manages other cognitive processes. It is responsible for processes that are sometimes referred to as executive functions, executive skills, supervisory attentional system, or cognitive control. The prefrontal areas of the frontal lobe are necessary but not sufficient for carrying out these functions.
Historically, the executive functions have been seen as regulated by the prefrontal regions of the frontal lobes, but it is still a matter of ongoing debate if that really is the case. Even though articles on prefrontal lobe lesions commonly refer to disturbances of executive functions and vice versa, a review found indications for the sensitivity but not for the specificity of executive function measures to frontal lobe functioning. This means that both frontal and non-frontal brain regions are necessary for intact executive functions. Probably the frontal lobes need to participate in basically all of the executive functions, but it is not the only brain structure involved.