Biology:Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex

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Short description: Area of some species' brains
Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex
Cortical midline structures.png
The location of the Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex is marked as "DMPFC"
Part ofPrefrontal Cortex
PartsAnterior cingulate cortex, Prelimbic cortex
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC[1][2] or DMPFC[3][4] is a section of the prefrontal cortex in some species' brain anatomy. It includes portions of Brodmann areas BA8, BA9, BA10, BA24 and BA32,[5] although some authors identify it specifically with BA8 and BA9.[3][6] Some notable sub-components include the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (BA24 and BA32),[1][5] the prelimbic cortex,[1][5] and the infralimbic cortex.[2]


Evidence shows that the dmPFC plays several roles in humans. The dmPFC is identified to play roles in processing a sense of self, integrating social impressions, theory of mind, morality judgments, empathy, decision making, altruism, fear and anxiety information processing, and top-down motor cortex inhibition [7][8][9][10] [11] The dmPFC also modulates or regulates emotional responses and heart rate in situations of fear or stress and plays a role in long-term memory [1][4]). Some argue that the dmPFC is made up of several smaller subregions that are more task-specific.[12] The dmPFC is attributed with many roles in the brain. Despite this, there is no definitive understanding of the exact role dmPFC plays, and the underlying mechanisms giving rise to its function(s) in the brain remain to be seen.


The dmPFC is thought to be one component of how people formulate an identity, or a sense of self[7][13] When actors were tasked with performing a character, fMRI scans showed relative suppression of the dmPFC compared to baseline tasks.[14] This same deactivation was not seen in the other tasks performed by the actors. The authors theorize that this may be due to the actors actively suppressing their own sense of self to portray another character. Similarly, the dmPFC has been shown to be inactive in individuals with psychological disassociation.[13]

Social judgments and theory of mind

Research has indicated that the dmPFC plays a role in creating social impressions.[8] One study showed that by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the dmPFC during a social judgment task directly disrupts a person's ability to form social judgments.[8] Additionally, the dmPFC is active when people are trying to understand the perspectives, beliefs, and thoughts of others, an ability known as Theory of mind.[15] The dmPFC has also been shown to play a role in altruism. The amount that a person's dmPFC was active during a socially-based task predicted how much money that person would later donate to others.[10] Furthermore, the dmPFC has been shown to be play a role in morality decisions.[16]


The dmPFC has been shown to be involved in voluntary and involuntary emotional regulation.[17][18] When recalling negative memories, older adults show activation in the dmPFC. This is believed to act as mechanism that reduces the overall experienced negativity of the event.[17] The dmPFC is thought to be impaired in individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder resulting in disrupted emotional regulation.[18]

Decision making

In addition to social judgments, the dmPFC shows increased activation during complex decision making tasks.[19] Other studies have shown increased activation in the dmPFC when a person must decide between two equally-likely outcomes, as well as when a decision is counter to their behavioral tendencies.[20][21]

Other species

The DMPFC can also be identified in monkeys.[22] The prelimbic system in mice is believed to be functionally analogous to the dmPFC's emotional regulation function in humans.[23]

Animal models

In rats, the dmPFC has been shown to exert top-down control over the motor regions, although the exact mechanisms of how this is accomplished remain unknown.[9] Another study looked at how dopamine receptors in the dmPFC play a role in regulating fear in rats.[24]

An experiment with mice found that optogenetic stimulation of the dmPFC increased their perseverance, motivational drive and grit causing them to assume a more dominant role in social hierarchies.[25] Additionally, researchers have shown that the dmPFC 5-HT6 receptors play a role in regulating anxiety-like behaviors in mice.[26]

See also

  • Self-model theory of subjectivity


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Corsi, P.S.; Christen, Y. (2012). Epigenetics, Brain and Behavior. Research and Perspectives in Neurosciences. Springer. p. 88. ISBN 978-3-642-27912-6. Retrieved 1 May 2019. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Gamond, L.; Cattaneo, Z. (2016). "The Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex Plays a Causal Role in Mediating In-group Advantage in Emotion Recognition: A TMS Study". Neuropsychologia (Elsevier) 93 (Pt A): 312–317. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.11.011. PMID 27865968. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lieberman, M.D. (2013). Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect. OUP Oxford. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-19-964504-6. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Interpersonal Sensitivity – Entering Others' Worlds. Psychology Press. 2007. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-84169-838-0. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Leary, M.R.; Tangney, J.P. (2012). Handbook of Self and Identity. Guilford Publications. p. 640. ISBN 978-1-4625-0305-6. Retrieved 2 May 2019. 
  6. Dougherty, D.D.; Rauch, S.L. (2008). Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research: Contemporary Strategies. American Psychiatric Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 978-1-58562-790-5. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Medial prefrontal cortex and self-referential mental activity: relation to a default mode of brain function". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 98 (7): 4259–64. March 2001. doi:10.1073/pnas.071043098. PMID 11259662. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex Plays a Causal Role in Integrating Social Impressions from Faces and Verbal Descriptions". Cerebral Cortex 26 (1): 156–65. January 2016. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu186. PMID 25165063. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Top-down control of motor cortex ensembles by dorsomedial prefrontal cortex". Neuron 52 (5): 921–31. December 2006. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2006.10.021. PMID 17145511. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Response of dorsomedial prefrontal cortex predicts altruistic behavior". The Journal of Neuroscience 32 (22): 7646–50. May 2012. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6193-11.2012. PMID 22649243. 
  11. "Encoding-specific effects of social cognition on the neural correlates of subsequent memory". The Journal of Neuroscience 24 (21): 4912–7. May 2004. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0481-04.2004. PMID 15163682. 
  12. "Functional Segregation of the Human Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex". Cerebral Cortex 26 (1): 304–21. January 2016. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhu250. PMID 25331597. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Dissociation Model of Borderline Personality Disorder (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). W. W. Norton. 22 October 2012. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-393-70861-5. 
  14. "The neuroscience of Romeo and Juliet: an fMRI study of acting". Royal Society Open Science 6 (3): 181908. March 2019. doi:10.1098/rsos.181908. PMID 31032043. 
  15. "What makes the dorsomedial frontal cortex active during reading the mental states of others?". Frontiers in Neuroscience 7: 232. December 2013. doi:10.3389/fnins.2013.00232. PMID 24367287. 
  16. "Parsing the neural correlates of moral cognition: ALE meta-analysis on morality, theory of mind, and empathy". Brain Structure & Function 217 (4): 783–96. October 2012. doi:10.1007/s00429-012-0380-y. PMID 22270812. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Older adults recruit dorsomedial prefrontal cortex to decrease negativity during retrieval of emotionally complex real-world events". Neuropsychologia 135: 107239. December 2019. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2019.107239. PMID 31678107. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "A neural model of voluntary and automatic emotion regulation: implications for understanding the pathophysiology and neurodevelopment of bipolar disorder". Molecular Psychiatry 13 (9): 829, 833–57. September 2008. doi:10.1038/mp.2008.65. PMID 18574483. 
  19. "Resolving response, decision, and strategic control: evidence for a functional topography in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex". The Journal of Neuroscience 29 (42): 13158–64. October 2009. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2708-09.2009. PMID 19846703. 
  20. "Functional imaging of decision conflict". The Journal of Neuroscience 28 (13): 3468–73. March 2008. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4195-07.2008. PMID 18367612. 
  21. "Error rate and outcome predictability affect neural activation in prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate during decision-making". NeuroImage 15 (4): 836–46. April 2002. doi:10.1006/nimg.2001.1031. PMID 11906224. 
  22. Brookhart, J.M.; Mountcastle, V.B.; Brooks, V.B.; Geiger, S.R. (1981). Handbook of physiology: a critical, comprehensive presentation of physiological knowledge and concepts. Handbook of Physiology: A Critical, Comprehensive Presentation of Physiological Knowledge and Concepts. American Physiological Society. ISBN 978-0-683-01105-0. 
  23. Acton, Q.A. (2013). Advances in Basal Ganglia Research and Application. Atlanta, GA: ScholarlyEditions. p. 20. ISBN 978-1-4816-6955-9. Retrieved 1 May 2019. 
  24. "Dopamine D1-like receptors in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex regulate contextual fear conditioning". Psychopharmacology 236 (6): 1771–1782. June 2019. doi:10.1007/s00213-018-5162-7. PMID 30656366. 
  25. Zhou, Tingting; Zhu, Hong; Fan, Zhengxiao; Wang, Fei; Chen, Yang; Liang, Hexing; Yang, Zhongfei; Zhang, Lu et al. (14 July 2017). "History of winning remodels thalamo-PFC circuit to reinforce social dominance". Science 357 (6347): 162–168. doi:10.1126/science.aak9726. Retrieved 2022-04-28. 
  26. "Dorsomedial prefrontal cortex 5-HT6 receptors regulate anxiety-like behavior". Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience 18 (1): 58–67. February 2018. doi:10.3758/s13415-017-0552-6. PMID 29204799.