Mental flexibility enabling shifts from the usual prepotent behaviour to new strategies and solutions is a significant factor in the successful adaptation to the changing environment. Components of mental flexibility comprise attention, salience detection, inhibition, working memory and switch processes which can be measured by neurocognitive tests. Data derived from examinations by the methods of cognitive neuroscience can be compared to the features, observed under resting state and during task performance, of brain structures and functions. Studying central nervous system correlates of mental flexibility by imaging, neurobiological, and pharmacological techniques revealed that certain cerebral regions (prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and insula, striatum, inferior parietal lobule) with their network connectivities, and some neurotransmitters (e.g. dopamine) have profound roles in this respect. Flexibility shares some similarities with artistic/scientific/everyday creativity and openness as a personality trait and this is also reflected in neurobiological parameters. According to precedents in art history, the public reception and acceptance of nonconform avant-garde artistic products are also dependent on flexibility and openness. Alterations of mental flexibility have been found in diseases (psychiatric and others), and in stress situations. Although flexible switch is generally considered as positive and beneficial, under certain conditions advantages might arise from keeping stability maintaining customs, conventions, and traditions.
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