Strategic networks allow us to “plan, execute, and monitor our internally generated mental and motor patterns” (Rose & Meyer, 2002, p. 21). Strategic networks are located in the front part of the brain, the frontal lobes (Rose & Meyer, 2002, p. 23), and these planning functions are called executive functions. According to Barkley (1998, pp. 69, 70) executive functions can be grouped into four categories: 1) holding information in memory while working on a task; 2) internalized self-directed speech; 3) “controlling emotions, motivation and state of arousal”; 4) “breaking down observed behaviors and combining the parts into new actions not previously learned from experience.” Barkley (1998, p. 70) proposes that patients with ADHD fail to be guided by internal speech and the internal instructions that characterize executive functions.
Swanson and colleagues (Swanson et al., 1998, p. 452-455) argue that conflict tasks (which test executive function) are among the best to diagnose ADHD children. Tasks in which the subject has to name the color of a word that may or may not be printed in the color it names (the word blue printed in red, e. g.) suggest that children with ADHD have deficits in executive function (Swanson et al., 1998, p. 452). They claim that the symptoms of ADHD that describe poor sustained attention, and those that describe impulsivity and poor conflict resolution may relate to deficits in executive function (Swanson et al., 1998, p. 455).