Neuroanatomy, Frontal Cortex

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan.


The cerebral cortex is the outermost portion of the brain, containing billions of tightly packed neuronal cell bodies that form what is known as the gray matter of the brain. The white matter of the brain and spinal cord forms as heavily myelinated axonal projections of these neuronal cell bodies. The cerebral cortex has four major divisions known as lobes: the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes. Each of these lobes has developed evolutionarily distinct and important functions. The surface of the cortex has a characteristic 'bumps and grooves' appearance, with the bumps referring to foldings of the cortex known as gyri, and the grooves referring to the sulci, which separate them. These foldings allow for the large cortical volume to fit inside the limited space of the cranial vault. The sulci are anatomical divides that separate the lobes from one another. The lateral cerebral fissure, also known as the Sylvian fissure, separates the temporal lobe from the parietal and frontal lobe. There is also the central sulcus, which is the divide between the frontal and parietal lobes, the parieto-occipital sulcus divides the parietal and occipital lobes, and the calcarine fissure which separates the cuneus from the lingual gyrus.

The focus of this article is on the cortex of the frontal lobe, the largest of the four, and in many ways the lobe which participates most in making us human. It is located at the most rostral (anterior) region of each cerebral hemisphere, separated from the parietal lobe by the central sulci and the temporal lobe by the lateral cerebral (Sylvian) fissure. Particular regions of the frontal cortex are responsible for numerous capabilities, most notably the performance of motor tasks, judgment, abstract thinking, creativity, and maintaining social appropriateness.

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