“The prefrontal cortex (pfc) is the most evolved part of the brain. It occupies the front third of the brain, underneath the forehead.” That quote is from page 111 of Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel Amen. Because of its location, the pfc is highly susceptible to head injuries, even those considered minor, where there is no loss of consciousness. While our brain is soft, the inside of our skull is hard and has sharp edges. Part of the pfc called the interior orbital cortex is located on top of many sharp, bony ridges. It is easy to imagine how a blow to the head, even a minor one, could cause the brain to impact against one of these bony areas, causing internal injuries that cannot be determined with x-rays. Another negative issue associated with this area is that so many people have head injuries and then forget about them later in life. In his book, Dr. Amen tells the story of one client who was asked five different times if he had injured his head at any time in his life and responded no to each question. After seeing the brain scan, Dr. Amen pressed the issue and the man said, “Oh, yeah. When I was a kid I fell off a porch that was two stories above the ground.” This forgetfulness is common, probably because there is no diagnosis of  serious injury.

Problems: this is from page 113: “Overall the pfc is the part of the brain that watches, supervises, guides, directs and focuses your behavior.” It affects time management, judgment, impulse control, planning, organization and critical thinking. The pfc is responsible for being goal oriented, socially responsible and effective. It allows us to learn from experience and to change our behavior based on past experience without the aid of someone else telling us what to do. The pfc helps us learn from our mistakes. Have you ever known someone who never seemed to learn from their problems? They probably had a poorly functioning pfc.

Because there is so much information about this part of the brain, I am breaking the section up into two blogs. My next blog will be titled The Prefrontal Cortex – diagnosis and solutions.

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