The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is an area in the front part
of the brain (known as the frontal lobes) that mediates
personality expression and executive functioning.
Executive functioning is a broad term that refers to
higher level higher level cognitive skills such as
planning, organization, decision making, multi-tasking ,
abstract thinking, and self-control. These functions
apply to thoughts and well as behaviors (actions). The
prefrontal cortex is the most recent part of the brain to
develop through evolution and is largely responsible for
differentiating humans from other animal species in a
cognitive (thinking) and behavioral sense.
The prefrontal cortex is located directly in front of the premotor cortex (on the bottom) and
area are parts of the frontal lobe that play an important role in motor planning. The
prefrontal cortex has connections with both of these areas but also has connections with
most parts of the brain since it serves in an executive (director) role. There are different
subsections of the prefrontal cortex which are named based on their location (e.g.,
dorsolateral [back side], orbitofrontal [near the orbits/eyes], and the mesial [middle]).
The dorloateral prefrontal cortex plays a major role in executive functioning. The
orbitofrontal cortex plays a critical role in behavioral inhibition (e.g., preventing impulsive
behaviors such as doing something without thinking it through).
The medial prefrontal cortex plays an important role in motivation,
which is why people who have damage to this area can experience
akinectic mutism, a condition where someone does not move or
Prefrontal cortex comes from the Latin word “prae” meaning
“before,” the Lating word “frontalis” meaning “forehead,” and the
Latin word “cortex” meaing “bark.” Put the words together and you
get “before forehead bark.” The word bark is used because just like
the bark in the outer part of a tree, the cortex is the outer part of the