For Those Who Need or Want To Know More

DLPFC - Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex

Dorsal = upper part 

Lateral = to the side

Prefrontal = That part of the frontal lobe which receives thalamic projections from the mediodorsal nucleus (Woolsey 1947)

Cortex = from the Latin word for "bark" the outside layer of the cerebrum, cortex is gray matter meaning it is composed of cells as opposed to the white matter underneath

One hundred years ago a psychiatrist in Germany (Paul Flechsig, MD (1847-1929) noticed that the cortex did not all myelinate at the same time, but developed in a certain sequence which appeared analogous to the evolution of the brain. The first parts of the brain which myelinates we share with the most primitive mammals, these are the basic input-output areas of face, arms, legs etc. The last to develop are those areas which make us the most human - the "Higher Functions" such as  creativity, intelligence, memory, planning and sequencing. He numbered the areas and made a map of the brain from area 1 to 45.

This map of the brain points us to pay attention to the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (Flechsig #45, Brodmann's areas 9 & 46) and the Frontal Pole (Flechsig #45, Brodmann's area 10). 

In the century that followed, this last area has been studied extensively. 


Development of white matter with increasing age in the right DLPFC (myelinogenesis). This graph demonstrates the correlation between age and myelination of the white matter (axons) (reflected in level of fractional anistotropy (FA) (Barnea-Goraly et al., 2005)

Fig. 3. The influence of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) on the correlated activity between the dorsomedial midbrain and medial thalamus during heat allodynia. Upper right graph shows the negative correlation between activity in the left DLPFC and each subject’s rating (VAS) of pain unpleasantness during heat allodynia. A median split of DLPFC activity defines high (filled circles) and low (open circles) activity levels. The lower right graph shows the strong positive midbrain-thalamic correlation when DLPFC activity is low and a lack of significant correlation when DLPFC activity is high. The diagram (left) summarizes one interpretation of this relationship. Midbrain and medial thalamic activity are uniquely activated during heat allodynia, which is associated specifically with increased pain unpleasantness (compared to normal heat pain). The left DLPFC, while also activated in this condition, is negatively correlated with pain unpleasantness. Our analysis of these results is consistent with the interpretation that the left DLPFC actively reduces pain unpleasantness (affect) by reducing the activity ascending from the midbrain to medial thalamus during heat allodynia. 

From -  Casey, Lorenz & Minoshima 2003 Insights into the pathophysiology of neuropathic pain through functional brain imaging

Cytoarchitechtonic maps of the Frontal Lobe

Petrides & Pandya 1999 DLPFC Comparative Cytoarchitechtonics


Recent Papers on the topic of DLPFC (Click to download)


Age-related differences in function and structure of rSMG and reduced functional connectivity with DLPFC explains heightened emotional egocentricity bias in childhood (Steinbeis 2015)

What saccadic eye movements tell us about TMS-induced neuromodulation of theDLPFC and mood changes: a pilot study in bipolar disorders.

Activity in dlPFC and its effective connectivity to vmPFC are associated with temporal discounting.

TMS affects moral judgment, showing the role of DLPFC and TPJ in cognitive and emotional processing.

Is there "one" DLPFC in cognitive action control? Evidence for heterogeneity from co-activation-based parcellation.

Application of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation to theDLPFC alters human prefrontal-hippocampal functional interaction.

Harnessing electric potential: DLPFC tDCS induces widespread brain perfusion changes.

BDNF polymorphism-dependent OFC and DLPFC plasticity differentially moderates implicit and explicit bias.

Decision value computation in DLPFC and VMPFC adjusts to the available decision time

Impulse control and underlying functions of the left DLPFC mediate age-related and age-independent individual differences in strategic social behavior.

Stop and be fair: DLPFC development contributes to social decision making.

Functional disconnection and compensation in mild cognitive impairment: evidence from DLPFC connectivity using resting-state fMRI.

Working memory and DLPFC inefficiency in schizophrenia: the FBIRN study.

Elevated GRIA1 mRNA expression in Layer II/III and V pyramidal cells of theDLPFC in schizophrenia.

AMPA receptor subunit and splice variant expression in the DLPFC of schizophrenic subjects and rhesus monkeys chronically administered antipsychotic drugs.

Does non-invasive brain stimulation applied over the dorsolateral prefrontalcortex non-specifically influence mood and emotional processing in healthy individuals?

Decoupling of N-acetyl-aspartate and glutamate within the dorsolateral prefrontalcortex in schizophrenia.

Short-Term Memory Impairment and Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal CortexDysfunction in the Orthostatic Position: A Single Case Study of Sinking Skin Flap Syndrome.

Differential roles of delay-period neural activity in the monkey dorsolateralprefrontal cortex in visual-haptic crossmodal working memory.

Post-training cocaine administration facilitates habit learning and requires the infralimbic cortex and dorsolateral striatum.

Motivation and affective judgments differentially recruit neurons in the primate dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex.

Selective increase of intention-based economic decisions by noninvasive brain stimulation to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Converging structural and functional connectivity of orbitofrontal, dorsolateral prefrontal, and posterior parietal cortex in the human striatum.

Contribution of NMDA receptors to dorsolateral prefrontal cortical networks in primates.

Dorsolateral-ventromedial prefrontal cortex interactions during value-guided choice: a function of context or difficulty?

Reward feedback stimuli elicit high-beta EEG oscillations in human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Analgesic effect of cathodal transcranial current stimulation over right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in subjects with muscular temporomandibular disorders: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial.

Comparison of Metabolite Concentrations in the Left Dorsolateral PrefrontalCortex, the Left Frontal White Matter, and the Left Hippocampus in Patients in Stable Schizophrenia Treated with Antipsychotics with or without Antidepressants. ¹H-NMR Spectroscopy Study.

Adding Sarcosine to Antipsychotic Treatment in Patients with Stable Schizophrenia Changes the Concentrations of Neuronal and Glial Metabolites in the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex.

Physiological approaches to understanding molecular actions on dorsolateral prefrontal cortical neurons underlying higher cognitive processing.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex reduces cocaine use: A pilot study.

Enhanced control of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex neurophysiology with real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) neurofeedback training and working memory practice.