Brain Region of the Week: Prefrontal Cortex

Brain Region of the Week: Medulla Oblongata

Located in your frontal lobe AKA the front of your brain, this week’s brain region is the prefrontal cortex (PFC). And if you only learn one thing about your PFC, let it be this: it’s responsible for executive function.

Executive function is a blanket term that covers a lot of our cognitive functions like reasoning, problem solving, memory, planning, and execution – so basically some of our most important cognitive processes.

We wouldn’t just be unable to make decisions without our PFC. The area also stores our working memory — which is responsible for processing and storing new information we learn. If your working memory isn’t functioning correctly, making long-term memories is pretty much impossible. So it’s no surprise that damaging your PFC can cause memory loss.

Damage to the PFC can also cause a dramatic personality change. If you’ve taken a psych course, you might remember Phineas Gage – the railroad worker who survived having an iron rod shoved through his head. Before the accident, friends had described Gage as hardworking and responsible, but after the accident his personality took a 180. Gage was now “gross, profane, coarse, and vulgar.”

People who suffer from ADHD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder also have abnormal function in their PFC.

Unfortunately, because of its location, it’s easy to damage your prefrontal cortex. So make sure you always wear your helmets and seat belts! You don’t want to lose your memory, do you?

Enjoyed this? Brush up on last week’s region, the pituitary gland!

 Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via Compfight cc

Located in your frontal lobe AKA the front of your brain, this week’s brain region is the prefrontal cortex (PFC). And if you only learn one thing about your PFC, let it be this: it’s responsible for executive function.

Executive function is a blanket term that covers a lot of our cognitive functions like reasoning, problem solving, memory, planning, and execution – so basically some of our most important cognitive processes.

We wouldn’t just be unable to make decisions without our PFC. The area also stores our working memory — which is responsible for processing and storing new information we learn. If your working memory isn’t functioning correctly, making long-term memories is pretty much impossible. So it’s no surprise that damaging your PFC can cause memory loss.

Damage to the PFC can also cause a dramatic personality change. If you’ve taken a psych course, you might remember Phineas Gage – the railroad worker who survived having an iron rod shoved through his head. Before the accident, friends had described Gage as hardworking and responsible, but after the accident his personality took a 180. Gage was now “gross, profane, coarse, and vulgar.”

People who suffer from ADHD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder also have abnormal function in their PFC.

Unfortunately, because of its location, it’s easy to damage your prefrontal cortex. So make sure you always wear your helmets and seat belts! You don’t want to lose your memory, do you?

Enjoyed this? Brush up on last week’s region, the pituitary gland!

 Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Photo Credit: Hey Paul Studios via Compfight cc

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