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.


  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

Last Updated: 08-18-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Wailam Yau

    Wailam Yau

    February 5th, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    That really helped me on my project about the roles

  • 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

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    October 3rd, 2018 at 9:59 AM

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  • Jan


    April 28th, 2019 at 11:20 PM

    Tanks. I have been on seratide aka prednisone puffer for years for allergic asthma. Clearly wrong. I ave many effects from it, eats away the prefrontal cortex and memory. It suppresses neurogenesis.

  • Cynthia K

    Cynthia K

    January 11th, 2016 at 9:39 PM

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

  • danny z

    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

    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.

  • Mayling Z.

    Mayling Z.

    August 10th, 2017 at 1:23 PM

    Where did you find this information out? I am also doing a project on Bipolar disorder and would like to know more about your research.

  • leah


    October 23rd, 2016 at 6:57 PM

    does anyone know some facts about prefrontal cortex???

  • feqiufewqhkubwe


    October 30th, 2017 at 4:39 AM


  • 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 ?

  • Dona M.

    Dona M.

    April 28th, 2018 at 7:43 PM

    I sustained a TBI in Aug. Of 2013. I still have PCS, PTSD, PCA. I want to know what I can do to re gain short term memory. I have had every treatment recommended for Tbi. INclouding HBO

  • 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 Team

    The 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.

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  • 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.

  • Jazmine


    October 23rd, 2017 at 4:46 PM

    thank you for the article, it helped SO much for my psych project!

  • Ian miller

    Ian miller

    October 27th, 2017 at 2:17 PM

    I have ADHD which makes it so the prefrontal cortex developed much slower than normal so most symptoms like forgetfulness and sensitive emotions like an extreme reaction to disappointment match up although It does not affect my cognitive ability or much of my organization skills which is strange

  • noope


    November 8th, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    i hate meself

  • Kristopher A

    Kristopher A

    November 20th, 2017 at 6:16 PM

    This really helped me thank you. Because of you I got an A

  • Jake P.

    Jake P.

    January 25th, 2018 at 11:48 AM

    Dab on the haters.

  • Brenda


    May 12th, 2019 at 10:02 PM


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    March 7th, 2018 at 9:36 AM

    nice article really helped with my essay

  • Lucy H.

    Lucy H.

    March 19th, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    Is Donald Trump’s Prefrontal Cortex fully functioning?

  • O


    October 15th, 2018 at 7:06 PM


  • jo


    December 21st, 2018 at 7:38 PM

    Completely missing……

  • Becky


    June 6th, 2018 at 7:14 AM

    This really helped me at 2 am trying to finish my 8 page psych paper on cults. Thanks

  • Jarol


    May 8th, 2019 at 6:16 PM

    Who is the author of this article?

  • The Team

    The Team

    May 9th, 2019 at 2:26 PM

    Hi Jarol,

    Thanks for visiting our Blog. There is no named author of this article. You can cite it simply as “GoodTherapy.” I hope this is helpful!

    Kind Regards,
    The GoodTherapy Team

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