The 2,017th Meeting of the Society

November 5, 1993

View of the World Through the Human Pre-Frontal Cortex

Jordan Grafman

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

About the Lecture

The human prefrontal cortex occupies 30% of the entire cerebral cortex. Recent neuroanatomical and cognitive studies indicate that the prefrontal cortex plays a role in social cognition, regulation of mood state, planning, associative learning, and working memory. Despite these advances, relatively little is known about the kind of knowledge that might be stored in the prefrontal cortex. In my presentation, I will try to resolve that mystery by proposing a cognitive architecture that underlies the apparent functions of the prefrontal cortex. Recent findings from functional neuroimaging and cognitive experiments will be presented. By providing a better understanding of the functions of the prefrontal cortex, it will be possible to resolve some of the mysteries of human brain function, knowledge representation, and interpersonal behavior and give full meaning to the notion of the distributed neural network.

About the Speaker

Mr. Grafman received his doctorate in Human Neuropsychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981. That same year, he entered the U.S. Air Force and was selected to head the neuropsychology research section of the Vietnam Head Injury Study that was being conducted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In 1986, Mr. Grafman joined the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as a senior staff fellow. In 1989, Mr. Grafman was made chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section at the NINDS. Currently, Mr. Grafman's research interests include the functions of the prefrontal cortex, memory and amnesia, the cognitive structure of representational knowledge, and attention and object recognition.