Abstractprefronal cortex

Executive function (EF) is a broad term for the higher order thought processes that are used in new situations, things like problem-solving, working memory, inhibitory control, and planning.  It can be separated into two divisions, “hot” EF dealing with emotionally and motivationally influenced decisions, and “cold” EF dealing with purely cognitive problem solving.  This study examined the various similarities and differences between “hot” and “cold” executive function, and attempted to make “cold” tasks “hotter” through giving traditional “cold” EF tasks in an incentive condition.  A total of 10 volunteer participants from the 2011 FSI program, ranging in age from 15 to 17, were tested through the use of the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), Tower of London (TOL), and Letter-Number Sequencing (LNS).  The IGT represented a typical “hot” task, while both TOL and LNS were “cold” tasks.  Performance on the TOL and LNS under non-incentive conditions did not correlate, and neither did the TOL or LNS under non-incentive conditions.  However, the TOL task under incentive conditions did strongly correlate with scores on the IGT, indicating that the “cold” task became “hotter”.  Future studies in this area should include a larger sample size in order to gather more definitive data and gain stronger statistical power.