Lateral prefrontal cortex: architectonic and functional organization

Michael Petrides

Abstract

A comparison of the architecture of the human prefrontal cortex with that of the macaque monkey showed a very similar architectonic organization in these two primate species. There is no doubt that the prefrontal cortical areas of the human brain have undergone considerable development, but it is equally clear that the basic architectonic organization is the same in the two species. Thus, a comparative approach to the study of the functional organization of the primate prefrontal cortex is more likely to reveal the essential aspects of the various complex control processes that are the domain of frontal function. The lateral frontal cortex appears to be functionally organized along both a rostral–caudal axis and a dorsal–ventral axis. The most caudal frontal region, the motor region on the precentral gyrus, is involved in fine motor control and direct sensorimotor mappings, whereas the caudal lateral prefrontal region is involved in higher order control processes that regulate the selection among multiple competing responses and stimuli based on conditional operations. Further rostrally, the mid-lateral prefrontal region plays an even more abstract role in cognitive control. The mid-lateral prefrontal region is itself organized along a dorsal–ventral axis of organization, with the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex being involved in the monitoring of information in working memory and the mid-ventrolateral prefrontal region being involved in active judgments on information held in posterior cortical association regions that are necessary for active retrieval and encoding of information.

Footnotes

  • One contribution of 12 to a Theme Issue ‘Cerebral cartography 1905–2005’.

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