Executive control: balancing stability and flexibility via the duality of evolutionary neuroanatomical trends.

TitleExecutive control: balancing stability and flexibility via the duality of evolutionary neuroanatomical trends.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsBilder, RM
JournalDialogues in clinical neuroscience
Volume14
Issue1
Pagination39-47
Date Published2012 Mar
ISSN1958-5969
Abstract

The concept of executive functions has a rich history and remains current despite increased use of other terms, including working memory and cognitive control. Executive functions have sometimes been equated with functions subserved by the frontal cortex, but this adds little clarity, given that we so far lack a comprehensive theory of frontal function. Pending a more complete mechanistic understanding, clinically useful generalizations can help characterize both healthy cognition and multiple varieties of cognitive impairment. This article surveys several hierarchical and autoregulatory control theories, and suggests that the evolutionary cytoarchitectonic trends theory provides a valuable neuroanatomical framework to help organize research on frontal structure-function relations. The theory suggests that paleocortical/ventrolateral and archicortical/dorsomedial trends are associated with neural network flexibility and stability respectively, which comports well with multiple other conceptual distinctions that have been proposed to characterize ventral and dorsal frontal functions, including the "initiation/inhibition," "what/where," and "classification/expectation" hypotheses.

Alternate JournalDialogues Clin Neurosci