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Frontal Cortex

Frontal Lobes
• Traditionally considered to be the seat of
intelligence.
• This is probably because:
– The frontal cortex is the most recent to evolve.
– Humans have particularly large frontal lobes
compared to other animals.
• The frontal cortex is the brain lobe least
amenable to quantitative testing.

Divisions of the Frontal Cortex
1. Motor cortex
2. Premotor cortex
3. Prefrontal cortex
4. Orbitofrontal & Ventromedial prefrontal
cortex
5. Anterior cingulate gyrus
6. Broca’s area
Divisions of the Frontal Cortex
Primary Motor Cortex
Prefrontal Cortex

Working memory
• Refers to the capacity to keep track of and update
information at the moment
• E.g., 7 + - 2
• Patricia Goldman-Rakic
• ODR paradigm (oculomotor delayed-response)
• Electrodes record activity from monkey neurons
during the task.
• Different neurons respond to different task
characteristics.
Regional Specialization:

1. Superior prefrontal
convexity (dorsal)—
spatial location

2. Inferior prefrontal
convexity (ventral)—
objects, faces

Impaired Response Inhibition
• Stroop
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Perseveration
• Carrie’s timing task with frontals
Shifting Difficulty
• Reduced fluency
– Generate animals beginning with ―C‖

• Difficulty generating hypotheses and
flexibly shifting to new task demands

Wisconsin Card Sort Task
(WCST)
Test Cards

Wisconsin Card Sorting Task
(WCST)
Alternating &
Sequencing Deficits
***VIDEO: Pick’s Disease

Alternating &
Sequencing Deficits
1. Motor
2. Planning & organizing tasks
3. Developing strategies for learning
new tasks
Frontal Eye Fields
Exploratory Eye
Movement Deficits

Other Dorsolateral Deficits
1. Pseudo-depression
2. Perceptual deficits
3. Corollary discharge
Mirror Neurons:
Characteristic Firing Properties
of Inferior DLPFC

• Motor
• Visual
• Somatosensory
• Body-part centered
(Fadiga et al., 2000)
―Mirror‖ Property
of Human DLPFC
(Iacoboni et al., 1999)
Orbitofrontal &
Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex

Phineas
Gage

Months later, however, Gage began to have startling changes in
personality and in mood.

He became extravagant and anti-social, a fullmouth and a liar
with bad manners, and could no longer hold a job or plan his
future.

He was quick to anger and often got into fights.
The Case of Phineas Gage
An explosion projected a tamping rod through his left cheek.
Miraculously, he recovered and had “normal intellegence”.
"The equilibrium between his intellectual faculties and animal
propensities seems to have been destroyed.‖ - Harlow
This is hypothesized to occur as
a result of impoverished social
learning as a result of failure to
make appropriate mappings
between events and their
outcomes.
Personality Changes
1. Lack of concern for the future
• Consistently poor decision-making
• Impulsiveness
2. Failure to obey rules
3. Lack of social graces
4. Disposed to imitation


Personality Changes II
1. Mild euphoria
2. Silliness & facetiousness

3. Pseudo-depression
4. Irritability


Orbitofrontal Cortex
Empathy
Decision-Making
Reinforcement Value
of Sensory Stimuli
Orbitofrontal Cortex
1. Secondary odor & taste cortices
2. Deficits in perceiving auditory or visual
emotional cues
– Can be Modality Specific
3. Cells respond to the rewarding or aversive nature
of stimuli
– Primary reinforcers
– Learned (secondary) Reinforcers

–Cells respond better to real than to 2-D faces
–Cells respond preferentially to specific faces
–Cells change their response to objects when reward associations change
Anterior Cingulate
Anterior Cingulate
Bilateral lesions produce:
1. Akinetic mutism—inability to initiate speech
2. Minimal movement
3. Incontinence
4. No emotional display to pain
5. Profound apathy
6. Indifference
• ***Striatum Pict – Sagittal?
5 Frontal-Subcortical Circuits
1. Motor
2. Oculomotor
3. Dorsolateral prefrontal
4. Lateral orbitofrontal
5. Anterior cingulate
Frontal-Subcortical Circuits II
Frontal lobe 

Striatum (caudate, putamen, ventral striatum) 

Globus pallidus & Substantia nigra 

Specific thalamic nuclei 

Frontal lobe

Summary I
Motor cortex
1. Loss of voluntary control over a specific body area
2. Deficits of fine motor control
3. Reduction of strength & speed

Premotor cortex
1. Impairs the integration of sequences into fluid actions
2. Reflex changes (i.e., grasp reflex)
Summary II
Prefrontal cortex
1. Working memory problems
(superior—where; inferior—what)
2. Difficulty generating new items or hypotheses
3. Lack of inhibition
4. Perseveration
5. Difficulty planning sequences or organizing
strategies
6. Eye movement deficits
Summary III
Orbitofrontal &
Ventromedial prefrontal cortex
1. Personality & emotional changes
2. Disregard for rules
3. Imitation
4. No IQ or dorsolateral problems

Anterior cingulate
1. Problems with initiating movements
2. Apathy
3. No emotional response to pain