Send to

Choose Destination
Prog Brain Res. 2011;189:319-39. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-53884-0.00032-4.

Biological and social influences on cognitive control processes dependent on prefrontal cortex.

Author information

Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia and Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Cognitive control functions ("executive functions" [EFs] such as attentional control, self-regulation, working memory, and inhibition) that depend on prefrontal cortex (PFC) are critical for success in school and in life. Many children begin school lacking needed EF skills. Disturbances in EFs occur in many mental health disorders, such as ADHD and depression. This chapter addresses modulation of EFs by biology (genes and neurochemistry) and the environment (including school programs) with implications for clinical disorders and for education. Unusual properties of the prefrontal dopamine system contribute to PFC's vulnerability to environmental and genetic variations that have little effect elsewhere. EFs depend on a late-maturing brain region (PFC), yet they can be improved even in infants and preschoolers, without specialists or fancy equipment. Research shows that activities often squeezed out of school curricula (play, physical education, and the arts) rather than detracting from academic achievement help improve EFs and enhance academic outcomes. Such practices may also head off problems before they lead to diagnoses of EF impairments, including ADHD. Many issues are not simply education issues or health issues; they are both.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center