The lateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex work as a dynamic integrated system:evidence from FMRI connectivity analysis


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigations of the interaction between cognition and reward processing have found that the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) areas are preferentially activated to both increasing cognitive demand and reward level. Conversely, ventromedial PFC (VMPFC) areas show decreased activation to the same conditions, indicating a possible reciprocal relationship between cognitive and emotional processing regions. We report an fMRI study of a rewarded working memory task, in which we further explore how the relationship between reward and cognitive processing is mediated. We not only assess the integrity of reciprocal neural connections between the lateral PFC and VMPFC brain regions in different experimental contexts but also test whether additional cortical and subcortical regions influence this relationship. Psychophysiological interaction analyses were used as a measure of functional connectivity in order to characterize the influence of both cognitive and motivational variables on connectivity between the lateral PFC and the VMPFC. Psychophysiological interactions revealed negative functional connectivity between the lateral PFC and the VMPFC in the context of high memory load, and high memory load in tandem with a highly motivating context, but not in the context of reward alone. Physiophysiological interactions further indicated that the dorsal anterior cingulate and the caudate nucleus modulate this pathway. These findings provide evidence for a dynamic interplay between lateral PFC and VMPFC regions and are consistent with an emotional gating role for the VMPFC during cognitively demanding tasks. Our findings also support neuropsychological theories of mood disorders, which have long emphasized a dysfunctional relationship between emotion/motivational and cognitive processes in depression.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Institute of Health & Neurodevelopment (AIHN)
College of Health & Life Sciences
Additional Information: © 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Uncontrolled Keywords: functional magnetic resonance imaging,fMRI,cognition,reward processing,lateral prefrontal cortex,ventromedial PFC,cognitive processing region,emotional processing region,rewarded working memory task,mood disorders,depression,Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication ISSN: 1530-8898
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2024 07:07
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2010 13:00
Full Text Link: http://www.mitp ... jocn.2009.21012
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2009-01
Authors: Longe, Olivia A.
Senior, Carl (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-2155-4139)
Rippon, Gina (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-3574-745X)


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