Damage to the fronto-polar cortex is associated with impaired multitasking

Jean Claude Dreher*, Etienne Koechlin, Michael Tierney, Jordan Grafman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: A major question in understanding the functional organization of the brain is to delineate the functional divisions of the prefrontal cortex. Of particular importance to the cognitive capacities that are uniquely human is the fronto-polar cortex (Brodmann's area 10), which is disproportionally larger in humans relative to the rest of the brain than it is in the ape's brain. The specific function of this brain region remains poorly understood, but recent neuroimaging studies have proposed that it may hold goals in mind while exploring and processing secondary goals. Principal Findings: Here we show that the extent of damage to the fronto-polar cortex predicts impairment in the management of multiple goals. This result reveals that the integrity of the fronto-polar cortex is necessary to perform tasks that require subjects to maintain a primary goal in mind while processing secondary goals, an ability which is crucial for complex human cognitive abilities. Conclusion/Significance: These results provide important new insights concerning the cerebral basis of complex human cognition such as planning and multitasking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3227
JournalPloS one
Volume3
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 16 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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