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Mapping the prefrontal cortex

Scientists are a step closer to pinning down the functions of the different regions of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for high level cognitive behaviour such as decision making and social conduct.

Research in macaque monkeys suggests that each region carries out a distinct functional role.

The latest findings by researchers at the Cognitive Brain Mapping Laboratory of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute and researchers at the Department of Experimental Psychology of the University of Oxford, published in Science this week, shed light on the nature of these functional differences.

The researchers trained fourteen macaque monkeys to carry out a behavioural task based on the Wisconsin card-sorting test, often referred to as a ‘frontal lobe’ test on the basis that patients with any sort of lesion on their frontal lobe tend to do badly at it. The impact on the macaque’s performance of lesions to five regions of the macaque prefrontal cortex was analyzed, results revealing that each region carries out a distinct functional role.

The discovery of these roles implies the existence of multiple functional components underlying seemingly inseparable high-level actions behaviours, unravelling the mystery of adaptive behaviour in primates. The findings may also prove useful in the understanding and treatment of mental diseases such as schizophrenia, which are thought to arise from a functional disorder in the prefrontal cortex.

For more information, please contact
Dr. Keiji Tanaka
Dr. Farshad A. Mansouri
Cognitive Brain Mapping Laboratory
RIKEN Brain Science Institute
Tel: 048-467-9342 / fax 048-462-4651
Dr. Mark J. Buckley
1Department of Experimental Psychology
University of Oxford
tel / fax: +44 (0) 1865 2-81919
Ms. Saeko Okada (PI officer)
Global Relations Office
Tel: +81-48-462-1225 / Fax: +81-48-467-9443

Saeko Okada | Research asia research news
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