Prefrontal neurons in networks of executive memory

Brain Res Bull. 2000 Jul 15;52(5):331-6. doi: 10.1016/s0361-9230(99)00258-0.


The neuronal networks of the frontal lobe that represent motor or executive memories are probably the same networks that cooperate with other cerebral structures in the temporal organization of behavior. The prefrontal cortex, at the top of the perception-action cycle, plays a critical role in the mediation of contingencies of action across time, an essential aspect of temporal organization. That role of cross-temporal mediation is based on the interplay of two short-term cognitive functions: one retrospective, of short-term active perceptual memory, and the other prospective, of attentive set (or active motor memory). Both appear represented in the neuronal populations of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. At least one of the mechanisms for the retention of active memory of either kind seems to be the reentry of excitability through recurrent cortical circuits. With those two complementary and temporally symmetrical cognitive functions of active memory for the sensory past and for the motor future, the prefrontal cortex seems to secure the temporal closure at the top of the perception-action cycle.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Primates
  • Set, Psychology