Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Mental Flexibility

  • Chris LoftisEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_2123


Cognitive flexibility; Set shifting


Mental flexibility is the ability to shift a course of thought or action according to the changing demands of a situation. Flexibility can involve perceptual, cognitive, and/or behavioral response dimensions that allow an individual to abandon a previous response set or pattern in order to generate an alternate that is better suited to the requirements of the situation at hand. It is one of the hallmark executive functions attributed primarily to the frontal lobes and is one of the key attributes that underlies the capacity for creative thought. On cognitive tests, mental flexibility can refer to the ability to track and systematically alternate between two response sets (e.g., as measured by fluency tests, the trail making tests) or to switch between attending or responding to different concepts or modalities (e.g., card sorting tests, Stroop color-word test, and interference tests). These cognitive-switching tasks are often...

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Council for Community Behavioral HealthcareAlexandriaUSA