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Brain: Ventromedial prefrontal cortex
Ventromedial prefrontal cortex on medial and ventral views of the brain, reflecting approximate location of damage in patients with decision making deficits.[1].
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MeSH [1]

The ventromedial prefrontal cortex is a part of the prefrontal cortex in the human brain. Its function has not been fully determined, but experiments suggest that it may have a role in the processing of risk and fear, and in decision making.

Note that different researchers use the term 'Ventromedial prefrontal cortex' differently. Sometimes, the term is saved for the area above the medial orbitofrontal cortex, while at other times, 'ventromedial prefrontal cortex' is used to describe a broad area in the lower (ventral) central (medial) region of the prefrontal cortex, of which the medial orbitofrontal cortex constitutes the lower-most part. This latter, broader area corresponds to the area damaged in patients with decision-making impairments investigated by António Damásio and colleagues (see diagram, and below).

As of yet, functional differences between the orbitofrontal and ventromedial areas of the pre-frontal cortex are not clearly established, although the areas of the ventromedial cortex superior to the orbitofrontal cortex are much less associated with social functions and more with pure emotion regulation.

One particularly notable theory of VMPFC function is the somatic marker hypothesis, accredited to António Damásio. By this hypothesis, the VMPFC has a central role in adapting somatic markers - emotional associations, or associations between mental objects and visceral (bodily) feedback - for use in natural decision making. This account also gives the VMPFC a role in moderating emotions and emotional reactions.


  1. Bechara, A (1998). Dissociation Of Working Memory from Decision Making within the Human Prefrontal Cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 18: 428-437.

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