From affective to cognitive processing: Functional organization of the medial frontal cortex

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The medial wall of the primate frontal lobe encompasses multiple anatomical subregions. Based on distinct neurophysiological correlates and effects of lesions, individual areas are thought to play unique roles in behavior. Further, evidence suggests that dysfunction localized to specific subregions is commonly found in different neuropsychiatric disorders. The neurobiological underpinnings of these disorders, however, remain far from clear. Here, to better understand the functions of medial frontal cortex (MFC) and its role in psychiatric disease, we focus on its functional organization. We describe the emerging pattern in which more dorsal regions subserve temporally extended cognitive functions and more ventral regions predominantly subserve affective functions. We focus on two specific domains, decision-making and social cognition, that require integration across emotion and cognition. In each case, we discuss the current understanding of the functions believed to depend on subregions of MFC as a stepping-stone to speculate on how they might work in unison. We conclude with an overview of how symptoms of certain psychiatric disorders relate to our understanding of MFC functional organization and how further discovery could fuel advances in circuit-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat does Medial Frontal Cortex Signal During Behavior? Insights from Behavioral Neurophysiology
EditorsAdam T. Brockett, Adam T. Brockett, Linda M. Amarante, Mark Laubach, Matthew R. Roesch, Matthew R. Roesch
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780323853361
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology
ISSN (Print)0074-7742
ISSN (Electronic)2162-5514


  • Anterior cingulate
  • Decision-making
  • Monkey
  • Social cognition
  • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex


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