Role of the lateral prefrontal cortex in executive behavioral control

Physiol Rev. 2008 Jan;88(1):37-57. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00014.2007.


The lateral prefrontal cortex is critically involved in broad aspects of executive behavioral control. Early studies emphasized its role in the short-term retention of information retrieved from cortical association areas and in the inhibition of prepotent responses. Recent studies of subhuman primates and humans have revealed the role of this area in more general aspects of behavioral planning. Novel findings of neuronal activity have specified how neurons in this area take part in selective attention for action and in selecting an intended action. Furthermore, the involvement of the lateral prefrontal cortex in the implementation of behavioral rules and in setting multiple behavioral goals has been discovered. Recent studies have begun to reveal neuronal mechanisms for strategic behavioral planning and for the development of knowledge that enables the planning of macrostructures of event-action sequences at the conceptual level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Concept Formation / physiology
  • Decision Making / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*