An information theoretical approach to prefrontal executive function

Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Jun;11(6):229-35. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2007.04.005. Epub 2007 May 1.


The prefrontal cortex subserves executive control--that is, the ability to select actions or thoughts in relation to internal goals. Here, we propose a theory that draws upon concepts from information theory to describe the architecture of executive control in the lateral prefrontal cortex. Supported by evidence from brain imaging in human subjects, the model proposes that action selection is guided by hierarchically ordered control signals, processed in a network of brain regions organized along the anterior-posterior axis of the lateral prefrontal cortex. The theory clarifies how executive control can operate as a unitary function, despite the requirement that information be integrated across multiple distinct, functionally specialized prefrontal regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Information Theory*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology
  • Thinking / physiology*