Social and Nonsocial Functions of Rostral Prefrontal Cortex: Implications for Education


Sam J. Gilbert, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK; e-mail:


ABSTRACT— In this article, we discuss the role of rostral prefrontal cortex (approximating Brodmann Area 10) in two domains relevant to education: executive function (particularly prospective memory, our ability to realize delayed intentions) and social cognition (particularly our ability to reflect on our own mental states and the mental states of others). We review evidence from neuropsychology and neuroimaging suggesting the involvement of rostral prefrontal cortex in these domains and discuss an overarching framework that seeks to characterize these functions in terms of attentional selection between perceptual and self-generated information. In addition, we present neuroimaging evidence in adults suggesting considerable functional specialization within this region. We conclude by discussing implications of these results for education and suggest directions for further research.