PSYC211 Lecture 15 - Feb. 29
The Ventral Prefrontal Cortex
The Ventral Prefrontal Cortex: ! The ventral prefrontal (PFv) cortex consists of
the orbital prefrontal (PFo) cortex and the
• The ventral prefrontal (PTv) cortex consists of the orbital prefrontal (PFo)
cortex and the ventromedial prefrontal (PFvm) cortexrontal (PFvm) cortex.
• The PFo is located at the ventr! sThe PFo is located at the ventral surface of the
brain above the eye orbits frontal lobe and covers the brain above the eye
• PFvm lies adjacent to PFo. It occupies the medial extent of the ventral
! PFvm lies adjacent to PFo. It occupies the
• Inputs from amygdala, the hippocampmedial extent of the ventral surface.,
the ventral segmental area and the olfactory system provide the PTv with
information about the environment and future planningla, the hippocampus and
Outputs to cingulate cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and amygdalathe ventral
inﬂuence the regulation and expression of emotion and the olfactory system
provide the PFv with information about the
The Role of the Ventral Prefrontal Cortex:environment and future planning.
• The PTv has inhibitory connections with the amygdala which are responsible
! Outputs to cingulate cortex, hypothalamus, hippocampus and
for suppressing emotional responses in social situations
• In the mid 1800’s, Phineas Gage was a victim of a tragic construction accidentssion of emotion.
• An explosion sent a 3cm thick, 90cm long tamping rod through his face, skull and brain
• Before his injury he was a good natured, kind, responsible, well liked and respectable man
• After his injury, he became childish, irresponsible and thoughtless of others. He had severe temper
outbursts and used profane language. He was unable to make plans or carry them out. He lost his
job and was unable to keep a social network of friends
The Ventral Prefrontal Cortex and Decision Making:
• Patients with PTv damage make decisions that are rewarding in the short term but lead to
detrimental effects in the long term (e.g. Gambling)
• Bechara et al. Had subjects play a gambling card game
• Subjects were given a stake of $2000 play money and were instructed to win as much as possible
• Subjects had to draw cards from one of four decks. Two were good decks and two were bad decks
Selecting cards from the ‘good’ decks lead to low rewards but low penalties
• Selecting cards from the ‘bad’ decks lead to high rewards but high penalties
The Iowa Gambling Task
The Iowa Gambling Task:
Bad Decks Good Decks
Gain $100; one half of Gain $50; one half of
all cards also have all cards also have
penalties averaging penalties averaging
Gain $100; one-tenth Gain $50; one-tenth of
of all cards also have all cards also have
penalties of $1250 penalties of $250
• Choosing from the good deck leads to a net gain over the long run
• Choosing from the bad deck leads to major losses over the long run
! Choosing from the good deck leads to a net gain over the long run.
! suChoosing from the bad deck leads to major losses over the long run. • Control subjects showed changes in skin conductance associated with ‘emotional stress’ just before
they chose a card from the bad deck
• Control subjects eventually shifted their responses from bad decks to good decks. That is, they let
their emotional response guide their choice behaviour
• Patients with PTv damage (especially PFo damage) did not show signs of stress ‘before’ they fMRI scans of healthy controls and psychopaths
selected from the ‘bad’ deck but showed autonomic changes ‘after’ they made a
during emotional conditioning training (Birbaumer et al., 2005)
choice that cost them money
Patients with amygdala damage failed to show any emotional changes before or
• ! Subjects were presented with a
after the choice of cards picture of a man’s face paired with
• Thus, emotional responses are important in guiding our decisions a painful stimulus.
fMRI Scans of Healthy Controls and Psychopaths During Emotional ! Control subjects show autonomic
signs of emotional conditioning
• Subjects were presented with a picture of a man’s face paired with a painful (e.g. galvanic skin response) and
activation of the amygdala, PFo
stimulus and PFvm and insula.
• Control subjects show autonomic signs of emotional conditioning (e.g. Galvanic
! Psychopathic subjects fail to
skin response) and activation of the amygdala, PFo and PFvm aAmygdala is involved in recognition, not expression develop a conditioned emotional
• Psychopathic subjects fail to develop a conditioned emotional response and little response and little sign of brain
! Patient S.P. received a bilateral activation.
sign of brain activation amygdalectomy to treat a severe
Facial Expression of Emotions is Innate: seizure.
• Human expressions are innate, unlearned responses involving complex ! She can recognise individual
movements of facial muscles faces, but she is unable to
recognise emotional expressions
• Edman and Friesen (1971) showed that an isolated tribe in New Guinea were able to recognize of fear.
emotional expressions by westerners
! Intriguingly, S.P. is able to produce
• They were also able to produce expressions that were recognizable by westerners
Recognition of Emotion: Role of the Amygdala her own expressions of fear and
several other emotions.
• Effective emotional communication is only useful if other people can recognize one’s emotional
state ! But, she cannot recognise a
picture of herself expres