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The Mystery of the Frontal Cortex

March 14, 2013

RSVP for this talk that takes place on MARCH 21, 2013.

The frontal cortex of the brain is involved in the processing of many higher order mental tasks, as well as potentially contributing to the processing of emotion. Two areas lie in the mid-line of the frontal cortex, and these comprise the right and left medial frontal cortex. Researchers have theorized that the medial areas contribute to specific cognitions or emotions. However, when the medial areas are excised, such as in treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, no adverse effects to emotion or cognition are observed.

Jeremy Seaman’s lab has sought to explore the mystery of the medial frontal cortex more thoroughly. In the lab’s research, they have discovered that the medial frontal cortex areas do process emotion and cognition, but using a different mechanism than expected. It seems that the medial frontal cortex forms an ongoing dynamic mental representation of important stimuli or events, and tells us how we feel about such stimuli or events. Rather than being an area involved in higher-order cognition or emotion, the medial areas appear to combine both types of information and thus allow our emotions to help us navigate the complexity of the world that constantly changes around us.

JeremySeamansJPeg-2

For another interesting update on hippocampal cells and rhythms, which Dr. Seamans has also explored, see this video showing the hippocampal place neurons in a mouse brain firing as they reach a specific location. The hippocampus is the most changeable area we know of in the human adult brain.

Hippocampal Place Neurons

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