-3
$\begingroup$

I've heard of many functions of the prefrontal cortex (e.g. creativity, working memory, abstract thought, inhibition, planning, executive function, etc...).

But I'd like to know what its primary function is? For example is there any one function it has which facilitates all of its other functions? Or is there a known reason why it evolved in the first place?

$\endgroup$
9
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Sorry for being such a downer on your last couple questions here, but first "What do you think?" is kind of a flag for the opinion-based questions that are not a good fit for the StackExchange format and are usually voted to be closed. Second, why should there be a one-sentence answer to this question? "Prefrontal cortex" is just a geometric label for a region of the brain, and a pretty arbitrary one at that: it includes 14 different Brodmann areas, and Brodmann areas need not themselves even have a one-sentence function. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 22 at 19:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can re-word it but I'm not asking an opinion. I'm asking for science's best approximation of an abstract fact. The reason I'm asking is because information concerning the prefrontal cortex seems a little bit disconnected & sometimes inconsistent. $\endgroup$
    – profPlum
    Sep 22 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ I'd certainly expect you to get disconnected and inconsistent answers to "what's the one sentence summary of what prefrontal cortex does" because there could be so many and also because most of how the brain works at a high level of organization is not currently understood. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 22 at 20:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just want to know what the most fundamental function it serves is. $\endgroup$
    – profPlum
    Sep 22 at 20:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Attributing purpose to the prefrontal cortex (or really to any biological part) is really the wrong way to look at things. Ask instead what it does, how it started to evolve in the first place, how it gave the possessors of early versions an evolutionary advantage... $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Sep 23 at 2:23
1
$\begingroup$

If you want the function of the prefrontal cortex boiled down to a single coarse approximation, the answer is executive function. That notion of more structured and symbolic cognition encompasses pretty much all of the others on your laundry list.

As with other complex and multifunctional organs in the body, reducing the prefrontal cortex in this manner is a problematic oversimplification, in much the same way as describing the function of the mouth as "getting things in and out of the body".

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ hm ok fair enough $\endgroup$
    – profPlum
    Sep 28 at 22:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.