Is the prefrontal cortex the center of the universe?

Alberto García-Molina, Antonia Enseñat

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    © 2015 Revista de Neurología. Introduction. Today, when we reflect on which structures of the human brain are the most significant, we invariably think of the anterior regions of the cerebral cortex, and more particularly the prefrontal cortex. Although this has been the predominant dogma over the last 150 years or more, well-renowned researchers have openly questioned this assumption. Development. During the 19th and 20th centuries, a number of researchers considered the posterior cortical regions to be the neuranatomical seat of the highest intellectual faculties. One of those researchers who stands out above the others, due to the proposals he formulated and the impact they had on the scientific community, was the German neuroanatomist Paul Emil Flechsig (1847-1929). Wilder Graves Penfield (1891-1976) was another scientist who disagreed with the dogma that considered the prefrontal cortex to be the anatomical entity underlying the most complex and sublime mental processes of human beings. In the mid-20th century, Penfield held the hypothesis of the existence of what he called the centrencephalic integrating system, which was responsible for the highest level of integration of the central nervous system. Conclusions. The corticocentric conceptions confer the highly-revered award of 'the most important structure in the brain' to the prefrontal cortex. Nevertheless, many other alternative proposals have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to strip it of this distinction and bestow it upon other brain structures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)372-376
    JournalRevista de Neurologia
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • 19th century history
    • 20th century history
    • Associative areas
    • Brain
    • Consciousness
    • Prefrontal cortex


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