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For a long time the dominant theory as to the function of the prefrontal cortex was that it supported working memory. A major advance was then made when John Duncan showed that in imaging studies it could be activated by a wide variety of tasks. This led to his proposal that the parietal and dorsal prefrontal cortex form part of a ‘multiple demand system’.

But I will show that within this system different subareas are activated by different tasks. Furthermore, some of the activations reported are actually located in the ventral and not the dorsal prefrontal cortex.

The talk is a plea for detailed anatomy. Functional brain imaging tells us where in the brain there is activation during a particular task. So it is critical to locate the peaks of activation accurately. One reason is that the anatomical connections of the different areas are not the same; another that correct localization provides a link to single unit studies, whether carried out in macaque monkeys or patients.

I will explain why the talk has this title at the start of the seminar.

 

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