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Prefrontal Cortex: Executive Function of the Brain

Where is the prefrontal cortex located?

The prefrontal cortex is located in the front part of the brain, just behind the forehead.

What it responsible for?

It is responsible for:

  • communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain
  • managing higher cognitive processes such as planning, problem solving, logic, reasoning, decision making and memory
  • formulating and carrying out social behavior and personality expression.

The prefrontal cortex regulates short-term and long-term decision making. Thus, it allows us to:

  • create strategies
  • adjust our actions in changing situations
  • pay attention, learn and focus on goals
  • and when presented with complex concepts or tasks, consider diverse yet related lines of thinking.

The prefrontal cortex contains working memory. It also controls intense emotions and impulses. And lastly, it is responsible for good judgment and inhibiting inappropriate behaviors.


To summarize, the prefrontal cortex acts like a CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of our brain. It helps us perceive “the bigger picture”, think clearly and make wiser decisions. When we are under a lot of stress, this executive aspect of our brain often “goes out to lunch”. ( We’ve all had this experience when we first sit down to a difficult exam, attend at a job interview, or are on a first date!)

On the other hand, when we are relaxed and calm, this part of our brain allows for greater perception and understanding of the world around us.

Please see this article for a description of all of the brain’s cortical structures.


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