Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
One of the least well understood regions of the human brain is rostral prefrontal cortex, approximating Brodmann's area 10. Here, we investigate the possibility that there are functional subdivisions within this region by conducting a meta-analysis of 104 functional neuroimaging studies (using positron emission tomography/functional magnetic resonance imaging). Studies involving working memory and episodic memory retrieval were disproportionately associated with lateral activations, whereas studies involving mentalizing (i.e., attending to one's own emotions and mental states or those of other agents) were disproportionately associated with medial activations. Functional variation was also observed along a rostral-caudal axis, with studies involving mentalizing yielding relatively caudal activations and studies involving multiple-task coordination yielding relatively rostral activations. A classification algorithm was trained to predict the task, given the coordinates of each activation peak. Performance was well above chance levels (74% for the three most common tasks; 45% across all eight tasks investigated) and generalized to data not included in the training set. These results point to considerable functional segregation within rostral prefrontal cortex.