Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain located at the front of the frontal lobe.  It is implicated in a variety of complex behaviors, including planning, and greatly contributes to personality development.

Development of the Prefrontal Cortex

Parents often joke that their children do not have the neurological capacity to behave in certain ways, and researchers are beginning to understand that, despite their adult appearance, teenagers’ brains are not yet fully developed. The development of the prefrontal cortex plays a significant role in maturation. The brain develops in a back to front pattern, and the prefrontal cortex is the last portion of the brain to fully develop. This does not mean that children do not have functional prefrontex cortices. Rather, they do not develop the complex decision-making and planning skills adults have until later in their development. Experience can play a role in the development of the prefrontal cortex, and children exposed to a variety of stimuli and challenges may develop more quickly.

Role of the Prefrontal Cortex

The prefrontal cortex is involved in a wide variety of functions, including:

  • Coordinating and adjusting complex behavior
  • Impulse control and control and organization of emotional reactions
  • Personality
  • Focusing and organizing attention
  • Complex planning
  • Considering and prioritizing competing and simultaneous information; the ability to ignore external distractions is partially influenced by the prefrontal cortex

Parts of Prefrontal Cortex

There are competing theories about how best to categorize the parts of the prefrontal cortex. One popular categorization breaks the cortex into the dorsal prefrontal cortex, which connects with brain areas related to attention and cognition and the ventral prefrontal cortex, which is connected with brain areas related to emotion. The prefrontal cortex is also a repository for information about arousal, which may explain why the prefrontal cortex is involved in regulating attention and distraction. Most neurologists agree that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until around the age of 25.

References:

  1. Audesirk, T., Audesirk, G., & Byers, B. E. (2008). Biology: Life on earth with physiology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  2. Maturation of the prefrontal cortex. (n.d.). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/opa/familylife/tech_assistance/etraining/adolescent_brain/Development/prefrontal_cortex/

Last Updated: 08-18-2015

  • 18 comments
  • Leave a Comment
  • Wailam Yau

    February 5th, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    That really helped me on my project about the roles
    Thx

  • Ashley

    December 10th, 2015 at 8:41 AM

    I like your website. Nice info, and it was really helpful in my brain project. :)

  • Steven

    July 10th, 2017 at 2:15 AM

    I’d like to do your prefrontal cortex

  • Cynthia K

    January 11th, 2016 at 9:39 PM

    At what age does the prefrontal cortex START to develop? age 2?

  • danny z

    February 12th, 2017 at 7:18 PM

    age 3

  • Amelie

    March 1st, 2016 at 1:43 AM

    I like this website. Can you try to put it in easier words though?

  • poorple

    November 13th, 2016 at 7:27 PM

    starts when your born

  • 'Denike

    April 11th, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    This is really helpful. can you write more on histology of the prefrontal cortex

  • Myra

    September 25th, 2016 at 12:11 PM

    Great information. Thank you.

  • Jennifer M C

    October 7th, 2016 at 8:42 AM

    I was doing some research on Bi-Polar disorder, where I read that adults with Bi-Polar disorder have a smaller prefrontal cortex than adults who do not have the disorder. I read not only is the prefrontal cortex smaller, but it also works at a lower capacity, than an adult who does not have Bi-Polar disorder. I found that interesting and wanted to know more about the prefrontal cortex and it’s functions.

  • leah

    October 23rd, 2016 at 6:57 PM

    does anyone know some facts about prefrontal cortex???

  • Timmy

    December 18th, 2016 at 11:33 AM

    this helped so much and i got an A

  • Jake

    January 6th, 2017 at 10:53 AM

    this helped me so much on my project thx so much :)

  • Susan

    February 20th, 2017 at 6:41 AM

    Is there any way to develop the function of PFC ?

  • Chelsea

    April 10th, 2017 at 1:50 AM

    This really helped me with my homework it told me more info than my teacher me !

  • Yosemite

    May 14th, 2017 at 5:37 PM

    Who is the author of this article?
    If there is an author.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    May 15th, 2017 at 10:16 AM

    Hi Yosemite,

    Our pages are written by freelancers or by members of our Editorial team. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out.

    Kind regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Mj

    June 15th, 2017 at 9:16 PM

    My son has sever TBI at age 4mths and now he is 12yrs, i am finding big changes in hos emotional-anger out bursting ,possessing behaviour that only focused on outcomes of incident no initiative finding errors of whole picture and like 3 to 5yrs temper tantrum. I was doing a research and got to the area of frontlobe lesion= blPFC, vmPFT.

    Need a help on explaining what that findings have related with prefrontal lesion and expected behaviour outcomes…
    recently conducted Neuropsychological assessment done and foundings are, intellectual functioning is borderline range,measured by WISC-V
    A significant discrepancy was noted between performance on measures of general comprehension skill and on tasks assessing working memory. A pairwise difference comparison analysis revealed that a discrepancy of this magnitude between indices is unusual, occurring in only 4.9% of the original standardisation sample of the measure.
    Borderline to extremely low from the tests,
    -●attention and processing speed
    :○ability to transcribe symbols that correspond with simple geometric shapes( borderline.wisc-v, coding)
    ○ability to scan simple visual iinformation and make a gross motor response.(Borderline)
    -●working memory,(borderline)
    ○ ability to hold and manipulate verbal information in immediate memory.
    -●visual learning and memory,
    ○recall of geometric shapes and spatial location(borderline)
    ○incidental memory for a previously copied complex figure(extremely low, RCFT – immediate recall,delayed recall)
    ○recognition of items of the complex figure(extremely low, RCFT Recognition)
    ●Executive functioning
    ○mental flexibility on visuomotor switching task(extremely low, D-KEFT:trail making, number, letter sequencing)
    ○ability to logically plan and execute a copy of a ccomplex figure.

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