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Functional lateralization of the prefrontal cortex during traditional frontal lobe tasks

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      We attempted to identify brain regions functionally lateralized during cognitive tasks traditionally linked to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) by measuring regional cerebral blood flow with H215O positron emission tomography (PET). Fourteen normal subjects were scanned six times while performing six different cognitive conditions comprising three task paradigms putatively sensitive to PFC integrity: the Wisconsin Card Sort (WCS), Delayed Response Alternation (DA), and the Spatial Delayed Response (SDR) Tasks, and three matched sensorimotor control tasks. Multivariate and repeated measures analyses indicated that for all three cognitive paradigms there were no significant hemisphere, hemisphere-by-condition, or hemisphere-by-region effects. However, with more liberal statistical comparison (paired t tests), the superior frontal gyrus showed lateralization during both the WCS and SDR tasks (both R > L). These results suggest that, although some asymmetries may be found using liberal analyses, there is less evidence of lateralized brain function during performance of these tasks of PFC function, than in language and motor systems. Implications for testing PFC function in neuropsychiatric groups are discussed.
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