Research Topic

Cellular and Network Mechanisms Underlying Behavioral Functions of the Prefrontal Cortex and Reward Circuitry Pertaining to Psychopathology

About this Research Topic

In humans, prefrontal cortical areas are known to support goal-directed behaviors, mediating a variety of functions that render behavior more flexible in the face of changing environmental demands. Abnormal prefrontal functions contribute to a variety of psychopathologies including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attentional deficits, anxiety disorders and compulsive drug-seeking. Furthermore, through its connections with the striatum and amygdala, the PFC plays a pertinent role in reward processes, and abnormal reward processing is a prominent feature of psychopathology. With dense dopaminergic innervation throughout the prefrontal cortex and reward-related circuitries and dopamine’s known contribution to psychopathology, studies highlighting the role of dopamine in modifying PFC network functions are pertinent. Thus, this research topic is designed to cover promising, recent and novel aspects of neurophysiological underpinnings of these psychopathologies.

While aspects of the circuits discussed above have been studied, the field still lacks knowledge regarding the anatomical and functional interconnectivity between these systems. Further, studies examining single cell phenomena pertinent to regional functions and intraregional connectivity are sparce. Exploring the relationships between psychopathological behaviors and the underlying changes in neurophysiological properties of these cellular networks will substantially advance the current understanding of the field. These types of studies would aid in understanding not only regional connectivity but single cell phenomenon relevant to different disease states. Additionally, recent advances in techniques such as chemogenetics and optogenetics allow for precise control and dissection of neuronal underpinnings of these disease states, greatly enhancing our ability to design and target pharmacotherapies for specific disease states.

To this aim, this Research Topic welcomes Original Research, Reviews, Perspectives, Clinical Trials and Opinion articles that cover, but are not limited, to the following topics:

• Single cell physiology of the prefrontal cortex and reward areas relevant to disease states and their relevance to regional connectivity
• The use of optogenetic and chemogenetic control to identify the role of single neuronal subtypes in the behavioral aspects of disease states
• Application of novel anatomical tracers to explore neuronal pathways between prefrontal cortical layers and reward regions
• Neuronal reconstruction techniques to monitor morphological alterations in disease states


Keywords: Psychopathology, Addiction, Schizophrenia, Neurophysiology, Prefrontal cortex


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In humans, prefrontal cortical areas are known to support goal-directed behaviors, mediating a variety of functions that render behavior more flexible in the face of changing environmental demands. Abnormal prefrontal functions contribute to a variety of psychopathologies including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attentional deficits, anxiety disorders and compulsive drug-seeking. Furthermore, through its connections with the striatum and amygdala, the PFC plays a pertinent role in reward processes, and abnormal reward processing is a prominent feature of psychopathology. With dense dopaminergic innervation throughout the prefrontal cortex and reward-related circuitries and dopamine’s known contribution to psychopathology, studies highlighting the role of dopamine in modifying PFC network functions are pertinent. Thus, this research topic is designed to cover promising, recent and novel aspects of neurophysiological underpinnings of these psychopathologies.

While aspects of the circuits discussed above have been studied, the field still lacks knowledge regarding the anatomical and functional interconnectivity between these systems. Further, studies examining single cell phenomena pertinent to regional functions and intraregional connectivity are sparce. Exploring the relationships between psychopathological behaviors and the underlying changes in neurophysiological properties of these cellular networks will substantially advance the current understanding of the field. These types of studies would aid in understanding not only regional connectivity but single cell phenomenon relevant to different disease states. Additionally, recent advances in techniques such as chemogenetics and optogenetics allow for precise control and dissection of neuronal underpinnings of these disease states, greatly enhancing our ability to design and target pharmacotherapies for specific disease states.

To this aim, this Research Topic welcomes Original Research, Reviews, Perspectives, Clinical Trials and Opinion articles that cover, but are not limited, to the following topics:

• Single cell physiology of the prefrontal cortex and reward areas relevant to disease states and their relevance to regional connectivity
• The use of optogenetic and chemogenetic control to identify the role of single neuronal subtypes in the behavioral aspects of disease states
• Application of novel anatomical tracers to explore neuronal pathways between prefrontal cortical layers and reward regions
• Neuronal reconstruction techniques to monitor morphological alterations in disease states


Keywords: Psychopathology, Addiction, Schizophrenia, Neurophysiology, Prefrontal cortex


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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