Dysexecutive Syndrome (Frontal Lobe Disorder)

Dysexecutive syndrome consists of a number of symptoms which tend to occur together (hence it being described as a syndrome). Broadly speaking, these symptoms fall into three main categories; cognitive, emotional and behavioural. Although many of these symptoms regularly co-occur, it is common to encounter patients who have several, but not all of these symptoms. This is one reason why some researchers are beginning to argue that dysexecutive syndrome is not the best term to describe these various symptoms (see criticisms below). The fact that many of the dysexecutive syndrome symptoms can occur alone has led some researchers to suggest that the symptoms should not be labelled as a “syndrome” as such. Some of the latest imaging research on frontal cortex areas suggests that executive functions may be more discrete than was previously thought. The argument is that rather than damage to the frontal cortex areas causing dysexecutive functions in general, that damage to multiple frontal cortex areas that are close together (but responsible for different cognitive functions) can cause the various symptoms of dysexecutive syndrome.

The counterargument is that there is a central executive corresponding to areas within the frontal lobes which is responsible for much of the executive system and executive function in general, and that damage to this area causes dysexecutive syndrome.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Short attention span
  • Poor working memory
  • Poor short term memory
  • Difficulty in planning and reasoning
  • Environmental dependence syndrome

Emotional symptoms

  • Difficulty in inhibiting emotions, anger, excitement, sadness etc…
  • Depression, possibly due to above.
  • Occasionally, difficulty in understanding others’ points of view, leading to anger and frustration.

Behavioural symptoms

  • Utilization behaviour
  • Perseveration behaviour
  • Inappropriate aggression
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Inappropriate humour and telling of pointless and boring stories (Witzelsucht)

Welp.  At least I haven’t started brushing my teeth when I see toothbrushes in the dentist’s office yet…