Orbitofrontal Cortex Analysis

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Introduction The orbitofrontal cortex is found to be associated with the processing of cognitive information related to decision making. This is, responding to the reward or punishment outcomes experienced by an individual after making a decision and, responding to the expectation of facing such an outcome later. This region of the brain is involved in the regulation of emotions during the process of decision making thereby causing an individual to engage in certain social behaviours. This essay will briefly discuss the associations between the decision making process of social behaviour and its relation to emotion, empathy and inhibition. Orbitofrontal cortex and its location The above image (The Orbitofrontal cortex, 2014) shows the location of the orbitofrontal cortex a. medially and b. ventrally. The medial dorsal nucleus of the thalamus is situated in areas 4 and 6, that is, located in the front of the motor and premotor cortices of the frontal lobe. The medial part of this nucleus (magnocellular part) projects to the ventral medial orbital portion of the prefrontal lobe (Kringelbach, 2005). This particular portion of the prefrontal cortex is called the orbitofrontal cortex of the brain and, it consists of Brodmann area 10, 11 and 47. It receives inputs from the ventral visual stream, and, inputs from the taste, somatosensory and olfactory receptors (Kringelbach, 2005). The orbitofrontal cortex is associated with the limbic system including the amydala, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Association to the limbic system includes the connection to insular cortex, the parahippocampal regions and the hippocampus (Cavada et al., 2000). The limbic system influences the control of behaviour and emotions in an individ... ... middle of paper ... ... & Mishkin, 1970; Roberts & Wallis, 2000 ; Rolls, 2000). Therefore it can be concluded that lesion to this area of the brain could result in disinhibited behaviour affecting social behaviour. Conclusion There is evidence that the orbitofrontal cortex is associated with emotions and decision making and, lesion to this area may cause severe impairments in the process of using emotions to make decisions before carrying out certain tasks. Therefore, patients with orbitofrontal damage may suffer from the inability to make appropriate choices by acting impulsively. Moreover, they may ignore the consequences of their behaviours as they will not be able to understand the thoughts and emotions experienced by other people. Finally, they may engage in disinhibited social behaviours such as obsessive gambling, hypersexuality, drugs and alcohol abuse and excessive swearing.
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