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Decision Making | What's Happening in the Brain

Decision making is an essential part of executive function . The front half of the cerebral hemispheres are called the frontal lobes. The back halves of the cerebral hemispheres collect and identify sensory information that is processed and then routed to the frontal lobes. The frontal lobes analyze this data in order to decide what action is most appropriate. Choosing one action (or response) over another is based on split second evaluation. This is called "executive function," or being able to plan and initiate a response.

The memory loss which characterizes Alzheimer's disease has a profound effect on executive function because the person you care for may not be able to mentally grasp and hold all of the elements of a scenario in memory long enough to interpret and evaluate them.

Alzheimer's patients with frontal lobe damage often lose the ability to sequence a task because they can no longer prioritize each segment of an activity like taking a shower. They can't organize the steps; remove clothes, turn on shower, adjust the temperature, step into shower, use the shampoo, wash the body, rinse off, turn off the water, dry off, and dress.

Loss of executive function can be noticed if a person becomes unable to do activities they used to be able to do, like crocheting, crafts, baking, woodworking or weeding the garden.

See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Natural Progression and Staging
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Unsafe Actions
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Judgment
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Executive Function
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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