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Cognitive Flexibility

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How Cognitive Flexibility connects to...

Cognitive Flexibility, a component of executive functioning, is the ability to think about multiple concepts, either at the same time or switching between them. This helps us adapt our behavior to effectively handle changes in our environment, including new task demands. Cognitive Flexibility has been shown to support reading comprehension, writing proficiency, and Numeracy skills.

Main Ideas

Cognitive Flexibility can also be called attention shifting or task switching, which involves adaptively shifting away from one idea or component of a task and responding or attending to something new. This is important for Digital Literacy as navigating texts online often requires following hyperlinks and moving between multiple tabs and windows.

Cognitive Flexibility can help adults direct cognitive resources, make decisions involving multiple tasks, and modify behavior to adapt to different situations at once. In many real-life situations, including while working, adults must consider and switch between different strategies and behaviors, for example, being able to effectively speak to someone on the phone and address a text message or email simultaneously. Multitasking skills can aid in minimizing task-related stress as learners can shift their focus from distractions and attend to more productive behavior. Although there is some evidence that adults with ADHD may have more difficulty with basic task switching, they do not show differences in their ability to multitask.

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