Common regions of the human frontal lobe recruited by diverse cognitive demands

Trends Neurosci. 2000 Oct;23(10):475-83. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(00)01633-7.


Though many neuroscientific methods have been brought to bear in the search for functional specializations within prefrontal cortex, little consensus has emerged. To assess the contribution of functional neuroimaging, this article reviews patterns of frontal-lobe activation associated with a broad range of different cognitive demands, including aspects of perception, response selection, executive control, working memory, episodic memory and problem solving. The results show a striking regularity: for many demands, there is a similar recruitment of mid-dorsolateral, mid-ventrolateral and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Much of the remainder of frontal cortex, including most of the medial and orbital surfaces, is largely insensitive to these demands. Undoubtedly, these results provide strong evidence for regional specialization of function within prefrontal cortex. This specialization, however, takes an unexpected form: a specific frontal-lobe network that is consistently recruited for solution of diverse cognitive problems.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Frontal Lobe / ultrastructure
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Haplorhini / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Perception / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Semantics
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology