Neuropsychological, neuroimaging and electrophysiological research supports a crucial role of lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) in executive control of human behavior. Altered PFC function underlies a host of debilitating developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders. Despite significant progress in PFC research, the real-time processes supporting PFC control of human cognition remain undetermined. We propose that PFC uses oscillatory dynamics to implement cognitive control of task-dependent neural networks. To address this hypothesis we employ a unique combination of direct cortical recording in neurosurgical patients (Electrocorticography;ECoG) with superb spatio-temporal resolution and signal-to-noise ratio, along with cutting-edge analysis to define PFC-dependent neural networks supporting cognition. We will examine three tasks probing hallmarks of frontal lobe function (categorical perception, working memory and controlled vs. automatic attention) across three sensory modalities (audition, vision, touch) to address the generalizabilty of PFC dependent oscillatory network control. We will then examine the causality of the oscillatory dynamics observed with ECoG using scalp EEG and behavioral methods in patients with focal lesions centered in lateral PFC regions activated in ECoG recording.
Aim 1 will use ECoG recording to define the role of PFC control of phase locking of low frequency neural oscillations between local modules of task dependent networks and examines whether phase locking and cross frequency coupling (CFC) between high gamma oscillations (60-200 Hz) and low frequency oscillations tracks task performance at the single- trial level.
Aim 2 examines the causality of ECoG defined oscillatory processes in patients with focal lateral PFC or posterior parietal cortex (PPC) damage. Finally, we predict that deficits in neural oscillations in the lesioned hemisphere will predict behavioral deficits and that neural oscillations in the non lesioned hemisphere will reveal novel patterns of neuroplasiticity and behavioral compensation. In summary, the proposed work aims to define the role of PFC in both distributed and local network function in the support of human behavior with implications for understanding normal as well as disordered brain function.

Public Health Relevance

This research is relevant to public health because it aims to delineate the mechanisms of PFC control of human behavior. It is well established that a host of disabling neurological, developmental and psychiatric conditions are linked to prefrontal dysfunction. This proposal aims to provide basic information on the role of prefrontal cortex in network control of behavior. This work is essential to the NIH mission since it will provide novel insights into the neurophysiology of prefrontal control of cognition relevant to both normal brain functioning as well as the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of many devastating clinical disorders. !! -1-

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT) Award (R37)
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Babcock, Debra J
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University of California Berkeley
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