Research Topic

Prefrontal cortical areas linked to cognitive function - do we have it all tied down?

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The interest in structure and function of the prefrontal cortex as a key of high-order human cognitive mechanisms is not diminishing at least since the famous case of Phineas Gage. Neuropsychological studies have predominantly emphasized on different areas of the prefrontal cortex, i.e. ventromedial, ...

The interest in structure and function of the prefrontal cortex as a key of high-order human cognitive mechanisms is not diminishing at least since the famous case of Phineas Gage. Neuropsychological studies have predominantly emphasized on different areas of the prefrontal cortex, i.e. ventromedial, dorsolateral and orbitofrontal, as well as the frontal pole being of pivotal role in different cognitive mechanisms. As neuroimaging studies, predominantly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI spread we have learnt more and more about areas involved in decision-making, moral cognition, mentalisation and problem-solving, to just name a few. These aspects are undoubtedly considered of key importance in most psychiatric conditions with a crucial influence on clinical aspects, social function and prognosis. A large number of studies suggested relatedness between structural and functional changes, as well as disturbances in the connectivity of the prefrontal cortex and other cortical and subcortical areas and cognitive alterations in major psychiatric disorders. With non-invasive modulation techniques as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) we have the opportunity to influence certain cognitive mechanisms and thus infer their relatedness to specific areas of the prefrontal cortex. More recently, eye tracking measures are applied as a reflection of executive and social functions related to prefrontal cortices. The combination of these investigative methods might yield even more insight into the specificity of neurocognitive functioning linked to prefrontal areas.


This Research Topic aims to explore the precise role of different prefrontal areas in the regulation of certain cognitive mechanisms. Opinion papers, reviews and original empirical research from all areas of the discipline are welcome. Reports supporting the argument of a univocal link between a distinct area and a specific function or subset of cognitive mechanisms as well as data suggesting a network of complex interconnected pathways in the background of cognitive function and disturbances in different psychiatric disorders are likewise of interest and considered.


Topics of interest include but are not limited to:
- neuropsychological testing of executive function, decision-making, social cognition and other high-order prefrontal mechanisms in psychiatric disturbances
- neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies related to structure and function of prefrontal cortical areas, related cognitive disturbances
- the use of eye tracking in the detection, measurement and monitoring of neurocognitive changes
- the influence of neurocognitive alterations on social function, prognosis and clinical symptomatology of psychiatric disorders
- effects of non-invasive modulation techniques on cognitive mechanisms and the link to clinical symptomatology
- arguments supporting or debating the univocal, rather didactical relatedness of distinct prefrontal cortical areas and specific cognitive mechanisms


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