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Primate Neuroethology$
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Michael Platt and Asif Ghazanfar

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195326598

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195326598.001.0001

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Executive Control Circuits

Executive Control Circuits

(p.405) Chapter 21 Executive Control Circuits
Primate Neuroethology

Jonathan D. Wallis

Oxford University Press

Primate behavior is complex, and as behavioral complexity increases so too must the complexity of the systems responsible for controlling the behavior. This chapter examines the neuronal systems that are responsible for this control. It begins by examining one of the essential features of such systems. High-level or executive control operates on highly processed information that is increasingly abstracted from the concrete world of specific sensory stimuli and motor responses. It then looks at the evidence that the prefrontal cortex—an area of the brain that has increased dramatically in size over the course of mammalian evolution—enables this abstraction. It considers the various psychological constructs that rely on abstraction, including high-level rule use, strategies, and task sets. It then examines how this high-level control is organized. It shows that studies investigating how humans implement high-level information suggest that there is a hierarchical organization of such information within the prefrontal cortex. The chapter examine whether there is evidence for such an organization in the monkey prefrontal cortex. Finally, it considers how high-level information in the prefrontal cortex interacts with other regions of the brain in order to control behavior.

Keywords:   primate behavior, neuronal system, complex behavior, behavior control, executive control, prefrontal cortex, abstraction

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