Demystifying cognitive flexibility: Implications for clinical and developmental neuroscience

Dina R. Dajani, Lucina Q. Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


Cognitive flexibility, the readiness with which one can selectively switch between mental processes to generate appropriate behavioral responses, develops in a protracted manner and is compromised in several prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders. It is unclear whether cognitive flexibility arises from neural substrates distinct from the executive control network (ECN) or from the interplay of nodes within this and other networks. Here we review neuroimaging studies of cognitive flexibility, focusing on set shifting and task switching. We propose that more consistent operationalization and study of cognitive flexibility is required in clinical and developmental neuroscience. We suggest that an important avenue for future research is the characterization of the relationship between neural flexibility and cognitive flexibility in typical and atypical development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-578
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Attention
  • Autism
  • Brain network
  • Dynamic functional connectivity
  • Executive function
  • Inhibition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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