Cools, R. (2015). Neuropsychopharmacology of Cognitive Flexibility. Social Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Clinical Brain Mapping,Academic Press, 3, 349–353, http://topics.sciencedirect.com/topics/page/Cognitive_flexibility
Cognitive flexibility is a broad term generally referring to our ability to adapt flexibly to our constantly changing environment. It is something that human animals are uniquely good at. We can persist with current behavioral strategies as long as these seem optimal for goal achievement, yet we can also update our strategies flexibly when the need for change has become sufficiently salient. How do our minds achieve this flexibility? This is not a straightforward issue, because only some of the changes around us are relevant and require cognitive flexibility. Most other changes are irrelevant (represent noise) and should be ignored. In the latter case, adaptive behavior depends on cognitive stability rather than cognitive flexibility. What we need is an ability to dynamically regulate the balance between cognitive flexibility and cognitive stability depending on current task demands. This trade-off between cognitive flexibility and stability has been studied in a variety of domains, ranging from reversal learning, to attentional set shifting, to task-set switching, to working memory updating.