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The Prefrontal Cortex

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A brief description of the prefrontal cortex: its location, its function, a scientific study relating to the PFC and what happens when the PFC is damaged.

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The Prefrontal Cortex

  1. 1. The Prefontal Cortex By Celia Bottger
  2. 2. Where is the pre-frontal cortex located? The pre-frontal cortex is located in the very front of the brain, just behind the forehead.
  3. 3. Function of the Pre-Frontal Cortex Regulates thought in terms of short-term and long-term decision making. Allows humans to plan ahead and create strategies, as well as to adjust actions and reactions to various situations. Allows humans to pull together disparate but related strands of thought when learning or evaluating complex concepts or tasks. Houses active, working memory Social judgements are made here Helps to focus thoughts Allows humans to pay attention, learn, and concentrate on goals.
  4. 4. PFC: Study A group of researchers published a study in January of 2014 that claims reckless teenage behavior can be explained by the rapid changing of neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex during adolescence. Using tools such as fMRIs and PET scans, these scientists found that until the mid-20s, the prefrontal cortex is still rapidly changing, as are the neurons that link the cortex to parts of the brain associated with impulsivity. When people are 15-16 years old, many old brain cells are replaced with new ones, and new neural pathways are established among them. Many of the basic cognitive abilities associated with the PFC (complex reasoning, abstract thinking, self-consciousness) rapidly expand at this time as well. Researchers found that when teenagers are around other people, dopamine-containing neurons in the PFC create a hormonal spike that cause teens to be more reckless and risky in the behaviors. Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/sep/05/teenage-brain-behaviour- prefrontal-cortex
  5. 5. What happens when the PFC is damaged? The PFC is one of the most susceptible parts of the brain to damage. If the PFC is damaged in some way, personality can change drastically. For example, someone who had been outgoing can become quiet and withdrawn after suffering injury to their pre-frontal cortex. Damage to the PFC can negatively impact someone’s ability to assess situations or perform tasks, especially if they have a moral or ethical aspect to them. People with damaged PFCs can be unable to discern appropriate behavior or suffer from emotional distress, such as paranoia, anxiety, euphoria, and irritability.
  6. 6. What happens when the PFC is damaged? The PFC is one of the most susceptible parts of the brain to damage. If the PFC is damaged in some way, personality can change drastically. For example, someone who had been outgoing can become quiet and withdrawn after suffering injury to their pre-frontal cortex. Damage to the PFC can negatively impact someone’s ability to assess situations or perform tasks, especially if they have a moral or ethical aspect to them. People with damaged PFCs can be unable to discern appropriate behavior or suffer from emotional distress, such as paranoia, anxiety, euphoria, and irritability.

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