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The ability to maintain and manipulate information across temporal delays is a fundamental requirement to bridge the gap between perception and action. In the case of higher-order behavior, the maintenance of rules and strategies is particularly helpful in bridging this gap. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) has long been considered critical for such processes, and research has focused on different subdivisions of PFC to gain an insight into their diverse contributions to these mechanisms. Substantial evidence indicates that dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC) is an important structure for maintaining information across delays, with cells actively firing across delays and lesions to this region causing deficits in tasks involving delayed responses and maintenance of rules online. Frontopolar cortex (FP), on the other hand, appears to show the opposite pattern of results, with cells not firing across delays and lesions to this region not affecting the same rule-based, delayed response tasks that are impaired following dlPFC lesions. The body of evidence therefore suggests that dlPFC and FP's contributions to working memory differ. In this article, we will provide a perspective on how these regions might implement distinct but complementary and interactive functions that contribute to more general temporally-extended processes and support flexible, dynamic behavior.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Syst Neurosci

Publication Date





delay, dorsolateral prefrontal, frontopolar cortex, prefrontal cortex, valuation