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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The prefrontal cortex is a source of internal control of attention as it captures three important components of an executive controller. First, it provides top-down selection of neural representations through descending projections, This top-down input may act by increasing the synchrony of local neural populations, enhancing their connectivity, and boosting the transmission of information. Second, intelligent top-down control of behaviour requires integrating diverse information. Neural representations in prefrontal cortex capture this breadth of information: representing anything from the specific contents of working memory to abstract categories and rules. Third, through reciprocal connections with the basal ganglia, prefrontal cortex neurons are ideally situated to learn the ‘rules’ of behaviour that allow us to know what to attend to in a given situation. These connections may support an iterative, bootstrapping, process that allows for increasingly complex rules to be learned. The prefrontal cortex acts as a generalized executive controller, acting through mechanisms such as attention, to guide thoughts and behaviour.

Keywords: neurophysiology, executive control, prefrontal cortex, parietal cortex, basal ganglia, synchrony, oscillations, dopamine, attention

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