The medial prefrontal cortex in the rat: evidence for a dorso-ventral distinction based upon functional and anatomical characteristics

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2003 Oct;27(6):555-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2003.09.003.


The prefrontal cortex in rats can be distinguished anatomically from other frontal cortical areas both in terms of cytoarchitectonic characteristics and neural connectivity, and it can be further subdivided into subterritories on the basis of such criteria. Functionally, the prefrontal cortex of rats has been implicated in working memory, attention, response initiation and management of autonomic control and emotion. In humans, dysfunction of prefrontal cortical areas with which the medial prefrontal cortex of the rat is most likely comparable is related to psychopathology including schizophrenia, sociopathy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and drug abuse. Recent literature points to the relevance of conducting a functional analysis of prefrontal subregions and supports the idea that the area of the medial prefrontal cortex in rats is characterized by its own functional heterogeneity, which may be related to neuroanatomical and neurochemical dissociations. The present review covers recent findings with the intent of correlating these distinct functional differences in the dorso-ventral axis of the rat medial prefrontal cortex with anatomical and neurochemical patterns.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Rats