Andre Zamani, Robin Carhart-Harris, Kalina Christoff

Sep 20, 2021
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The human prefrontal cortex is a structurally and functionally heterogenous brain region, including multiple subregions that have been linked to different large-scale brain networks. It contributes to a broad range of mental phenomena, from goal-directed thought and executive functions to mind-wandering and psychedelic experience. Here we review what is known about the functions of different prefrontal subregions and their affiliations with large-scale brain networks to examine how they may differentially contribute to the diversity of mental phenomena associated with prefrontal function. An important dimension that distinguishes across different kinds of conscious experience is the stability or variability of mental states across time. This dimension is a central feature of two recently introduced theoretical frameworks—the dynamic framework of thought (DFT) and the relaxed beliefs under psychedelics (REBUS) model—that treat neurocognitive dynamics as central to understanding and distinguishing between different mental phenomena. Here, we bring these two frameworks together to provide a synthesis of how prefrontal subregions may differentially contribute to the stability and variability of thought and conscious experience. We close by considering future directions for this work.

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