The frontal lobe is among the most complex and intriguing regions of the brain from basic and clinical neuroscience perspectives. It is composed of primary motor and premotor cortices that are crucial for action knowledge and control, and also the prefrontal cortex that has been described as both an enigma and the organ of civilization. While other cortical regions are defined by their dedicated roles in sensory-perceptual and cognitive aspects of visual, spatial, auditory, language, somatosensory, and memory processing, the prefrontal cortex harbors a challenging array of executive control, goal-directed, emotional, and social functions that are essential for the self-regulation of thought, action, and emotions over time and place. The latter processes provide the foundation not only for human development but also for adaptive functioning in unpredictably changing and demanding environments. Frontal lobe syndromes constitute some of the most perplexing effects of brain damage and can be deceptively disabling. For these reasons, the frontal lobe and more specifically the prefrontal cortex encompass areas of intense research and clinical evaluation in children, adults, and older persons (Grafman, 1995a; Levin, Eisenberg, & Benton, 1991; Miller & Cummings, 2007; Stuss & Knight, 2002). This chapter is designed to highlight and integrate both clinical and organizational aspects of frontal lobe functions, drawing on clinical neuropsychological analysis of frontal lesions as well as more recent functional brain-imaging methods. Emphasis is placed on the region of the prefrontal cortex because of its vital role in many aspects of human behavior and adaptation. As a student and colleague of Professor Arthur Benton over 25 years, I heard him speak endearingly of Professor Vignolo, to whom this volume is dedicated. Hence, preparation of the chapter held special significance in honoring this leading figure in Italian neuropsychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuropsychological Research
Subtitle of host publicationA Review
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781135420024
ISBN (Print)9781841696201
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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