Prefrontal Cortex - Interconnections


The prefrontal cortex is highly interconnected with much of the brain, including extensive connections with other cortical, subcortical and brain stem sites. The dorsal prefrontal cortex is especially interconnected with brain regions involved with attention, cognition and action, while the ventral prefrontal cortex interconnects with brain regions involved with emotion. The prefrontal cortex also receives inputs from the brainstem arousal systems, and its function is particularly dependent on its neurochemical environment. Thus, there is coordination between our state of arousal and our mental state.

The medial prefrontal cortex has been implicated in the generation of slow-wave sleep (SWS), and prefrontal atrophy has been linked to decreases in SWS. Prefrontal atrophy occurs naturally as individuals age, and it has been demonstrated that older adults experience impairments in memory consolidation as their medial prefrontal cortices degrade. In older adults, instead of being transferred and stored in the neocortex during SWS, memories start to remain in the hippocampus where they were encoded, as evidenced by increased hippocampal activation compared to younger adults during recall tasks when subjects learned word associations, slept, and then were asked to recall the learned words.

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