Neurocognitive mechanisms of cognitive control: the role of prefrontal cortex in action selection, response inhibition, performance monitoring, and reward-based learning

Brain Cogn. 2004 Nov;56(2):129-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2004.09.016.


Convergent evidence highlights the differential contributions of various regions of the prefrontal cortex in the service of cognitive control, but little is understood about how the brain determines and communicates the need to recruit cognitive control, and how such signals instigate the implementation of appropriate performance adjustments. Here we review recent progress from cognitive neuroscience in examining some of the main constituent processes of cognitive control as involved in dynamic decision making: goal-directed action selection, response activation and inhibition, performance monitoring, and reward-based learning. Medial frontal cortex is found to be involved in performance monitoring: evaluating outcome vis-a-vis expectancy, and detecting performance errors or conflicting response tendencies. Lateral and orbitofrontal divisions of prefrontal cortex are involved in subsequently implementing appropriate adjustments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Goals
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Motivation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reward*