Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The gateway hypothesis of rostral prefrontal cortex function

Burgess, P.W., Dumontheil, I., & Gilbert, S.J. (2007). The gateway hypothesis of rostral prefrontal cortex (area 10) function. Trends in Cognitive Science, Vol. 11, No. 7.

The rostral prefrontal cortex, area 10, is a particularly large brain region in humans, but its function is still poorly understood, to which this paper provides a nascent hypothesis. Their 'gateway hypothesis' suggests that the rostral PFC serves as a gateway between the internal mental life that exists in the absence of sensory influence (i.e. pure, imaginative cognition) and stimulus-oriented cognition. They maintain that lateral and medial subregions are differentially sensitive to changes in demands for stimulus-oriented or stimulus-independent attending, and together their coordination enables us to attend to either environmental stimuli or to self-generated representations. They highlight initial supporting evidence and discuss goals for future experimentation.

(A more general role is proffered by Koechlin & Hyafil.)

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