The Prefrontal Cortex
This is the front part of the brain. It is often called the “executive function”. Here we find social behavior, planning, and personality expression. We also can see the difference between good and bad, same or different, and link future consequences to present behaviors.
The prefrontal cortex can also determine if we can wait for a reward, feel guilt or remorse or interpret the reality of a situation (Lebedev et al., 2004).
As mentioned previously, the early study of the railroad supervisor, Phineas Gage, who in 1848 had a metal rod pierce his left cheek which went through his head, was a classic case study. Phineas lived through the ordeal and healed. He then had a normal memory and the ability to function well. However, his behavior changed dramatically.
This was attributed to the area of the prefrontal cortex injury. He would get into fights on a regular basis and behave “shockingly” per reports. Although he could tell the differences between right and wrong, he chose to go pick the easy and pleasurable way (Miller, 2001).
The Prefrontal Cortex is linked with the limbic system. It is often considered the translator of emotions from the limbic system. When the prefrontal cortex is not working properly, it tends to minimize or maximize these translations.
One cannot reason, or think in a scientific, rational manner if the translations from the limbic system are misinformed (Damasio, 1994).
Several studies over recent years have indicated that a reduction of links and interconnections of the prefrontal cortex with the limbic system is common in criminals, sociopath, schizophrenics and drug addicts.
The prefrontal cortex interprets reality for the limbic system. If this part of the brain is not working to the best of its ability, there will be a reduction in executive functioning, guilt, remorse, goal setting, prediction of outcomes, cognitive and social behaviors, etc. (Lebedev et al, 2004).
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