The What and How of prefrontal cortical organization

Trends Neurosci. 2010 Aug;33(8):355-61. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2010.05.002. Epub 2010 Jun 22.


How is the prefrontal cortex (PFC) organized such that it is capable of making people more flexible and in control of their behavior? Is there any systematic organization across the many diverse areas that comprise the PFC, or is it uniquely adaptive such that no fixed representational structure can develop? Going against the current tide, this paper argues that there is indeed a systematic organization across PFC areas, with an important functional distinction between ventral and dorsal regions characterized as processing What versus How information, respectively. This distinction has implications for the rostro-caudal and medial-lateral axes of organization as well. The resulting large-scale functional map of PFC could prove useful in integrating diverse data, and in generating novel predictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*