Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) can be defined as an integral constituent of the frontal lobes positioned exactly behind the forehead. PFC is one of the most important parts of the brain and it is responsible for several vital functions for instance: mediation, conflict resolution, and choice selection among right or wrong or good or bad. PFC is also responsible for making predictions about the events to come along with rationally the social and emotional parameters. All the information gathered from the senses is kept in the PFC to make decisions. Moreover, it is also responsible for establishing the levels of human intelligence and personality. PFC being the most important component of brain is responsible for regulating the thinking both in terms of short term as well as long term decision making. PFC in the human beings allows for: future planning, creating strategies, and appropriately adjusting the actions or the reactions as per situational changes .
PFC is one of the brain’s regions, which by all means is highly susceptible to the physical injuries and the influential environmental factors. Being the functional head of the brain, any kind of dysfunction in PFC may result in a number of psychological disorders. Among the most common dissociative disorders are: anxiety issues, personality and cognitive disorders, childhood disorders, ADHT, autism, and schizophrenia. Considering the fact that all the disorders mentioned are related to the prefrontal cortex, PFC is therefore referred to as the “ psychic cell of the brain”. This means that any kind of disturbance in the PFC will result in ceasing of the normal functioning of the human brain and will result in psychological disorders .
Prefrontal cortex without doubt functions as a seat of humanity. Humanity is widely composed of social and moral decisions we take in our everyday life, and PFC influences both moral and social decisions. Social decision making involves the famously spread long-term memories over time we gather during the process of interacting with other individuals. These memories are responsible for rectifying and continuously amending our social behavior and our handling capabilities in the novel situations. These long-term memories are also responsible for gathering information required to execute social duties and goals. For instance, asking for permission or following a leader to accomplish some task are examples of the social decision making. In the same manner, parallelizing with the justice, rituals, beliefs, and rules and regulations are the moral decisions made by the PFC. Prefrontal cortex being the seat of humanity is important because it is appropriately positioned to deal with the social or moral cognitions. PFC is not only accountable for handling our immediate responses after interaction with a stimulus like facial gestures, but is also accountable for forecasting the aftermaths of the social or moral reactions next to the stimuli in the long-term .
Prefrontal cortex is responsible for taking the social and moral decisions in the humans’ beings. Therefore, any kind of dysfunction in the PFC may result in a number of psychological disorders. Recent brain imaging techniques indicate that the individuals suffering from psychological disorders have very limited volumes of interconnections with the other regions of the brain. These less interconnections were found in individuals who repeatedly fail to socialize themselves. Suicide victims, people with bipolar disorders and people facing serious psychological disorders like anxiety, stress and ADHT also exhibited similar least volumes of PFC interconnections with other parts of the brain. Most of the psychological disorders are of biological origins and are primarily the result of inappropriate connections of neurons among the parts of the brain like prefrontal cortex. The victims suffering are not able to transmit or receive the desired signals and they are not able to socialize or reach at logical conclusions .
Prefrontal cortex differentiates humans from its primates. PFC plays a vital role in anxiety control by keeping an active check on areas like amygdale which are primarily responsible for anxiety. The role of prefrontal cortex is to give guidance to the stimuli gathered from the surrounding. Any kind of PFC dysfunction may result in ceasing the guidance and the patient may starts to panic .
Normal functioning of the prefrontal cortex guarantees that the individuals will stay away from the mood swings and bi-polar behavior. However, when the activity in the PFC decreases because of some reason, the person is not able to interact accordingly with the surrounding and is not able to respond to the stimuli in a rational manner. This results in a state of panic and uncertainty. The victim suffering generally fails to socialize, becomes isolated and loses its concentration .
Neuro-imaging, clinical and neuropsychological studies indicate that schizophrenia is a consequence of PFC dysfunction. The highly altered dopaminergic neurotransmission can be considered as the root cause of schizophrenia. Studies indicate that the PFC receives large volumes of dopaminergic innervations; therefore, any kind of abnormality in the dopamine systems will lead to schizophrenia.
Cognitive disabilities, prompt behavioral modifications and failed socialization are the few psychological issues directly linked with the prefrontal cortex dysfunction. Research indicates that without any apparent loss to the intellectual abilities, the behavior and cognitive abilities of individual changes. The primary reason assigned is the inappropriate levels of neural activities in the PFC .
In a nutshell, prefrontal cortex, either directly or indirectly influences almost every part of the human psychology. It leads us, directs us, helps us to take moral decisions and socialize in the community. Being the seat of humanity, prefrontal cortex plays a vital role in the intellectual human development. Until now, it was considered to be developed in the later stages of the life; however, research indicates that the prefrontal cortex develops much early in the human development phases. The study of PFC is just like an iceberg. We know only the tip of the berg. A lot of additional studies are needed to know about the whole functioning of the PFC.
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