The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex: Anatomy, Evolution, and the Origin of Insight

Paperback | June 13, 2014

byRichard E. Passingham, Steven P. Wise

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The prefrontal cortex makes up almost a quarter of the human brain, and it expanded dramatically during primate evolution. The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex presents a new theory about its fundamental function. In this important new book, the authors argue that primate-specific partsof the prefrontal cortex evolved to reduce errors in foraging choices, so that particular ancestors of modern humans could overcome periodic food shortages. These developments laid the foundation for working out problems in our imagination, which resulted in the insights that allow humans to avoiderrors entirely, at least at times.In the book, the authors detail which parts of the prefrontal cortex evolved exclusively in primates, how its connections explain why the prefrontal cortex alone can perform its function, and why other parts of the brain cannot do what the prefrontal cortex does. Based on an analysis of itsevolutionary history, the book uses evidence from lesion, imaging, and cell-recording experiments to argue that the primate prefrontal cortex generates goals from a current behavioural context and that it can do so on the basis of single events. As a result, the prefrontal cortex uses the attentivecontrol of behaviour to augment an older general-purpose learning system, one that evolved very early in the history of animals. This older system learns slowly and cumulatively over many experiences based on reinforcement. The authors argue that a new learning system evolved in primates at aparticular time and place in their history, that it did so to decrease the errors inherent in the older learning system, and that severe volatility of food resources provided the driving force for these developments.Written by two leading brain scientists, The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex is an important contribution to our understanding of the evolution and functioning of the human brain.

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The prefrontal cortex makes up almost a quarter of the human brain, and it expanded dramatically during primate evolution. The Neurobiology of the Prefrontal Cortex presents a new theory about its fundamental function. In this important new book, the authors argue that primate-specific partsof the prefrontal cortex evolved to reduce er...

Richard Passingham did his undergraduate degree at Oxford University (BA, 1966), and then did a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology.at the Institute of Psychiatry in London (M.Sc. 1967). He then undertook his Ph.D. at the University of London (1971). Afterwards he returned to Oxford University as a Research Officer on a MRC Programm...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.69 × 6.73 × 0.07 inPublished:June 13, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198714696

ISBN - 13:9780198714699

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Evolution of the primate prefrontal cortex3. Medial prefrontal cortex: choosing actions based on outcomes4. Orbital prefrontal cortex: choosing objects based on outcomes5. Caudal prefrontal cortex: searching for goals6. Dorsal prefrontal cortex: generating goals based on recent events7. Ventral prefrontal cortex: generating goals based on visual and auditory contexts8. Prefrontal cortex as a whole: generating goals from current contexts and events9. Human prefrontal cortex: generating goals from instructions and imagination10. Conclusions