In Search of Functional Specificity in the Human Prefrontal Cortex

Start Date & Time: 
Friday, 2 August, 2013 - 12:00
End Date & Time: 
Friday, 2 August, 2013 - 13:00

Conference Room 4D, Level 4       
Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School

Speaker Details: 

Prof Michael Chee
Dr Thomas Yeo (Research Fellow)
Cognitive Neuroscience Lab


Complex behaviors are subserved by distributed networks of association brain regions. Within the association cortex, particular attention has been focused on the organization of the prefrontal cortex. One enduring question is whether functional specificity exists within prefrontal cortex or more broadly, how prefrontal functions can be divided into useful components. One difficulty in ascertaining functional specificity is that individual studies only use a small set of behavioral tasks, a limitation meta-analyses seek to overcome. Here, we expand upon previous meta-analyses by considering 10,449 human brain imaging experiments across 83 task categories. As expected, we found the early sensory and late motor cortices to be more functionally specialized than prefrontal cortex. Within prefrontal cortex, we nevertheless found multiple islands of functional specificity. In a follow-up analysis (N = 1000), we found the functional coupling among regions specialized for the same cognitive systems to be stronger than the functional coupling among regions specialized for different systems. Overall, our results help to clarify the functional organization of human prefrontal cortex.


BT Thomas Yeo is a research fellow with Prof. Michael Chee at the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. He received his B.S. and M.S. from Stanford University and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research involves the development of statistical models for the large-scale analysis of high-dimensional brain imaging datasets. By characterizing the brain systems of healthy human subjects, Thomas seeks to understand how these systems support cognition. This might in turn shed light on how and why these systems become disrupted as a result of psychiatric disorders or sleep deprivation. Thomas is a recipient of the A*STAR National Science Scholarship, the MICCAI Young Scientist Award and the MICCAI Young Investigator Publication Impact Award.


Prof Dale Purves
Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School
Neuroscience & Behavioral Disorders Program