Prefrontal Cortex

Last update: October 2, 2022
By BrainMatters

This is a brain region in the frontal cortex and is also abbreviated as PFC. This area is involved in a lot of different skills, such as higher cognition, goal setting, planning, memory, and performing motor sequences. This area also becomes active when a risky decision is made.

The anterior tip of your brain is involved in cognition, for example, in creating goals and subgoals. The area also becomes active during a spatial memory task. This involves people trying to remember the location of certain images. The idea is that this cortex will play a role in the recognition phase, where subjects must say whether the picture was at location 1 or location 2. The broad region is also important for more difficult motor tasks. These include imitating other people's movements, or motor response to an auditory stimulus. The region seems to be needed for performing actions in a certain order as well. The lower part of it becomes active for sequences that do not occur often in everyday life (e.g., dancing the Macarena). The upper part becomes active during sequences that do occur frequently (such as tying your shoelaces).

This brain region is the anterior part of the frontal cortex, and contains parts of the superior frontal gyrus and the middle frontal gyrus. Next to BA 10 are BA 9, BA 46, BA 47, and BA 12. The connections to and from BA 10 are almost all linked to other higher areas of the cortex (not sensory areas).

This area becomes active when making a risky decision. You can think about doing negotiations, or playing a game that requires negotiation. When you take a risky step in the negotiation, this brain area becomes active.

People with damage to this brain area have problems with prospective memory. This means that they have trouble remembering whether or not they performed a certain conscious action. An example of this could be answering an email.

There are also several studies that have shown that people with schizophrenia have abnormalities in the functioning of this area. These include various abnormalities, such as the structure, as well as the substances to which the brain area responds.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)

This lobe is featured in the following brain matters articles:
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