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What Is the Middle Frontal Gyrus?

By Erik J.J. Goserud
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The middle frontal gyrus describes an anatomically specific region of the cerebral cortex. This particular location of the brain is responsible for the processing of higher information, a characteristic generally specific to cortical matter. Relatively large, the middle frontal gyrus accounts for a little over 30 percent of the surface area on the frontal lobe.

The human brain is as complex as the amazing actions it is capable of. The brain can be thought of as being composed of three layers. The innermost layer is where the brain stem lies and is generally responsible for vital functions like the involuntary beating of the heart and breathing. The middle region of the brain is somewhat of a liaison between the innermost layer and the outer cortex. The cerebral cortex, which gives the brain its characterizing wrinkled look, is most prominently used for processing higher information.

The more intellectually advanced a creature, the more brain layers are likely to be present, and it is thought that, evolutionarily speaking, the core of the brain existed before other layers. Survival is often more dependent upon the brain stem than the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex, or cerebrum, is composed of peaks and valleys, termed gyri and sulci respectively.

The brain is also divided by orientation to the center of the body. The most forward lobe is termed the frontal lobe, which is where the middle frontal gyrus is located. Others include the occipital lobes, the parietal lobes, and the temporal lobes. The exact location of the middle frontal gyrus is reflected in its name — frontal referring to lobe location, middle describing placement within the lobe, and gyrus referring to the peak. The middle frontal gyrus is better described as a region rather than a specific part of the brain.

Among the functions of the frontal lobe are thought to be face recognition and the ability to determine good from bad along with the consequences of actions. Scientists theorize that long-term memory, emotional functions, and personality characteristics are also related to the function of the frontal lobe. The middle frontal gyrus's specific role within the frontal cortex is not clearly understood.

It is difficult to accurately describe any particular region of the brain in terms of functionality. This is due to its complexity, the overlap of functions among brain regions, and barriers in testing. The good news is that scientists are dedicated to the ongoing study of the brain and its functions so that it can be better understood in the future.

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