The prefrontal cortex receives information from the general interpretive area and the association areas. It is the site of personality, our sense of socially acceptable behavior, creativity, conscience, judgement, abstract ideas, and foresight. It recognizes temporal relations between events and interprets events and makes predictions about the future consequences. This information may cause the limbic system to generate frustration, anxiety, etc.If you cut the axons linking the prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain (a frontal lobotomy), one becomes unconcerned, without emotion reactions. Tumors here result in mental and personality disorders.
In both men and women, orgasm increases activity in the right hemisphere more than the left and involves the septal region, prefrontal, temporal, and parietal lobes, putamen, insula, and cerebellum (Bianchi-Demicheli, 2007).

When we observe an object, visual efferents form the visual cortex proceed to two important sites: the inferotemporal cortex where the object is recognized and incorporated into other aspects of our awareness and the parietal cortex which analyzes spatial relationships and movement. From the parietal cortex, efferents project to the premotor cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex where rapid reactions can be coordinated. The lateral prefrontal cortex is an important region where sensory input and motor outputs are associated (Sakagami, 2007; Sakagami, 2006).
More profound analysis occurs when the inferotemporal cortex projects to the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex is a vital decision-making center where the interpretation of visual stimuli can be linked to emotional associations and other cognitive functions to interpret the significance of the stimuli. From here, projections to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (and from there, the motor areas), can adjust motor responses. This second pathway can inhibit the first and can thus serve as an important center for decisions to stop an action (Sakagami, 2007; Sakagami, 2006).

Working memory requires the ability to link sensory stimuli of the past with future plans. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can selectively inhibit specific brain regions. rTMS application to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex demonstrates this area has a role in monitoring working memory (Ko, 2007; Ranganath, 2006)

The prefrontal cortex in general, especially the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, functions in memory retrieval tasks to select only relevant memory from competing possible choices (Badre, 2007).

A lesion of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex resulted in difficulty in arriving at a destination, perhaps because working memory did not retain the destination as a goal (Ciaramelli, 2008). The use of mnemonics increases activity in the dorsolateral PFC (Jha, 2006).

There seems to be some specialization of the two prefrontal corticies regarding their role in memory tasks. For example, in visual memory tasks, the left prefrontal cortex may function more in formation of categories while the right prefrontal cortex functions more in spatial coordination (Slotnick, 2006).

The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex interprets emotional inputs (Bender 2007). Activity levels in the medial prefrontal cortex in response to emotional stimuli are correlated with different personality types (Rubino, 2007). Lesions in the orbitofrontal and ventrolateral PFC change emotional and social behavior, perhaps due to an inability to utilize past experiences in decision-making (Clark, 2004)

The hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex are important centers which reduce the fearful reactions to aversive stimuli in anxiety spectrum disorders (Milad, 2007). There are indications that some mental processes which are initially controlled by subcortical areas can gradually be included in the role of the prefrontal cortex as age advances. Fearful stimuli invoke responses from the amygdala at all ages but begin to involve the prefrontal cortex as adolescence progresses (Yeurgelin-Todd, 2006).

Reduction of serotonin levels in the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus is associated with aggressive and impulsive behavior. Polymorphisms of the monoamine oxidase A gene associated with aggression also increase activity levels in the orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus (Passamonti, 2008).

Neuroticism is characterized by an emphasis on negative emotions. In test subjects, higher scores of neuroticism are associated with enhanced activity in the medial prefrontal cortex in response to negative or sad stimuli (Haas, 2008).

Activity and abnormal function of the amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex have been associated with morality and a preoccupation with consequences for other people vs. psychosis and a disinterest in the feelings of others (Blair, 2007). When individuals choose to lie or be deceptive, activity increases in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortices (Spence, 2008).

There are cases of temporal lobe epilepsy resulting in hyper-religiosity. Reports have also associated hyper-religiosity with damage to the frontal lobe and a phenomenon frequently observed in patients with obsessive-compulsive behavior (which has been associated with PFC activity) (Muramoto, 2004).

The frontal cortex is important in inhibiting sexual behavior (Leon-Carrion, 2007). The dorsolateral regions of the prefrontal cortex respond to visual erotic material, although the response is greater and more rapid in men than in women (Leon-Carrion, 2007).

Lesions of the prefrontal cortex often interfere with the ability to make decisions or to choose to stop an inappropriate action. (For example, a person with a prefrontal lesion who is instructed to draw a certain shape may find it hard to stop drawing the same shape repeatedly.) Distinct regions of the prefrontal cortex are used during decision making tasks (such as navigating through a maze) (Yoshida, 2006; Sakagami, 2006)
Neuroimaging studies suggest that the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex processes sensory stimuli which is linked to the planning of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Yoon, 2007).

Language often includes idioms, terms which are meant in a figurative rather than a literal sense. Lesion studies and transcranial magnetic stimulation indicated that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a site necessary for the recognition of idioms in language (Rizzo, 2007).


The prefrontal cortex is important in the regulation of stress responses. Chronic glucocorticoid secretion causes neuron loss in the left prefrontal cortex, which is presumably more sensitive to stress than the right (Cerqueira, 2008).

The prefrontal cortex helps to regulate (and inhibit) the HPA axis. Glucocorticoids inhibit activity in the prefrontal cortex and lower levels of activity in the orbital-inferior prefrontal lobe are commonly noted in patients of depression (Bao, 2008). Decreased activity in the frontal lobe is a feature of depression (Whalley, 2008) and the hippocampus and parahippocampus are reduced in suicidal patients (Rohlfs, 2006).In patients with depression, abnormalities in brain blood flow and glucose metabolism have been observed, in regions such as the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. The medial prefrontal cortex (which includes the orbit frontal cortex, anterior cingulated, and inferior frontal cortex) is one of the brain regions whose altered activity is most closely associated with depression. (Bremmer, 2008). Strokes affecting the prefrontal cortex are often followed by a bout of depression. In turn, glucocorticoids inhibit activity in the prefrontal cortex and lower levels of activity in the orbital-inferior prefrontal lobe are commonly noted in patients of depression (Bao, 2008).Decreased activity in the frontal lobe is a feature of depression (Whalley, 2008). Abnormal activity has been observed in the regions of the prefrontal cortex which determine executive function in patients with depression (Wang, 2008).

Decreased activity of the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus in depressed patients contributes to sleep and mood abnormalities (Bao, 2008).
Mood disorders can be associated with decreased volume and neuronal cell death in specific parts of the brain. A reduction in gray matter volume in the hippocampus, thalamus, and cingulate gyrus has been reported for patients with depression (Vasic, 2008). Specific glial cells may be reduced in specific disorders throughout the brain. For example, reductions in the number of oligodendrocytes in the amygdala are observed in depression (Schroeter, 2008). One study showed that in men, but not women, the hippocampus decreased its volume following a life event which triggered the onset of depression (Kronmuller, 2008).
The ventromedial prefrontal cortex helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system, to which it sends numerous projections. Decreased activity here results in elevated heart rate (Wong, 2007).
The PFC has also been associated with evaluating context (Kerns, 2004) and evaluating difference between self and others (Schmitz, 2004)

The nonaffected siblings of schizophrenics nevertheless display deficits in cognitive function and hyperactivity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Delawalla, 2008).
Psychosis can result following lesions of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and amygdala (Blair, 2007).

Degeneration of the prefrontal cortex is associated with (and could be a predictor of) dementia (Burgmans, 2008).