Prefrontal cortex and cognitive control: Motivating functional hierarchies

Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 16.1). 08/2009; 12(7):821-2. DOI: 10.1038/nn0709-821
Source: PubMed


How different frontal brain regions contribute to goal-directed behavior is not fully understood. A study now suggests a parallel functional architecture in medial and lateral prefrontal cortex for motivating and selecting behavior.

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Available from: Tobias Egner
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    • "The monitoring attentional system, important for the phenomenon we observed, represented by the ACC [Posner and Reichle, 1994], serves to ensure that the elaboration processes in other brain regions are of the highest efficiency, in relation to the demands of the tasks that are taking place. It is proposed that activity in the dACC signals the need for increased cognitive control [Ridderinkhof et al., 2004a, b] and interactions between the dACC and lateral prefrontal structures implement subsequent behavioral changes [Egner, 2009; Kouneiher et al., 2009; Ridderinkhof et al., 2004a, b]. The midcingulate comprises different subareas with a complex pattern of connection with limbic structures and appears to be important for the integration of emotional and cognitive processes and vegetative activity [Damasio, 1994; Devinsky et al., 1995; Ong€ ur and Price, 2000]. "
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    • "Koechlin et al. suggest two forms of control; contextual and episodic control (Koechlin et al., 2003; Koechlin and Summerfield, 2007). Contextual control refers to the use of a current cue (context) for selecting task appropriate behavior whereas episodic control, refers to the use of past cues that determine, for an extended period of time the way that current stimuli and contextual cues are interpreted (Egner, 2009). The modes of control are arranged hierarchically whereby episodic control affects contextual control, but not vice versa. "
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    • "Though these methods are largely agnostic about the directionality of these interactions, the findings of Kouneiher and colleagues suggests that the medial frontal regions may regulate the cognitive control resources in the lateral regions according to motivational incentives (Kouneiher et al., 2009). Therefore, we speculate that dmPFC exerts a regulatory or modulatory influence on dlPFC (Wood and Grafman, 2003; Egner, 2009; Kouneiher et al., 2009). "
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