"Executive functions" is an umbrella term for the abilities that enable a person to establish new patterns of behaviour and ways of thinking, and to introspect upon them. This is required most in unfamiliar situations, where one doesn't know what to do, or in situations where established ways of behaving are no longer useful or appropriate. Thus the term refers to a whole range of adaptive abilities and behaviours such as creative and abstract thought, introspection, planning, multitasking, and many processes related to the control of memory: In other words all the abilities that enable a person to analyse what they want, how they might get it, and then carry that plan out, often over long periods of time. It is also widely accepted that executive functions play a critical part in complex social behaviour, such as understanding how others see us, being tactful, or deceitful. It is generally thought that the frontal lobes of the brain play a critical role in all these functions, and it is not uncommon to hear people refer to them (imprecisely) as "frontal lobe functions".

We are particularly interested in discovering the functions of a large part of the frontal lobes called Brain Area 10 (the area in red in the figure on the right), about which little is known.

Figure created using MRIcro
View of brain from left showing anterior prefrontal cortex
(brain area 10) in red

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This page last modified 12 November, 2009 by ICN WEB Team


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