Functional specialization within rostral prefrontal cortex (area 10): A meta-analysis

Gilbert, S.J., Spengler, S., Simons, J.S., Steele, J.D., Lawrie, S.M., Frith, C.D., & Burgess, P.W. (2006). Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18, 932-948.

One of the least well understood regions of the human brain is the rostral prefrontal cortex, approximating Brodmannís Area 10. Here, we investigate the possibility that there are functional subdivisions within this region, by conducting a meta-analysis of 104 functional neuroimaging studies (using PET/fMRI). Studies involving working memory and episodic memory retrieval were disproportionately associated with lateral activations, whereas studies involving mentalizing (i.e. attending to oneís own emotions and mental states, or those of other agents) were disproportionately associated with medialactivations. Functional variation was also observed along a rostral-caudal axis, with studies involving mentalizing yielding relatively caudal activations and studies involving multiple-task co-ordination yielding relatively rostral activations. A classification algorithm was trained to predict the task, given the co-ordinates of each activation peak. Performance was well above chance levels (74% for the three most common tasks; 45% across all eight tasks investigated) and generalized to data not included in the training set. These results point to considerable functional segregation within rostral prefrontal cortex.