Experience and the developing prefrontal cortex

Bryan Kolb, Richelle Mychasiuk, Arif Muhammad, Yilin Li, Douglas O. Frost, Robbin Gibb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

283 Citations (Scopus)


The prefrontal cortex (PFC) receives input from all other cortical regions and functions to plan and direct motor, cognitive, affective, and social behavior across time. It has a prolonged development, which allows the acquisition of complex cognitive abilities through experience but makes it susceptible to factors that can lead to abnormal functioning, which is often manifested in neuropsychiatric disorders. When the PFC is exposed to different environmental events during development, such as sensory stimuli, stress, drugs, hormones, and social experiences (including both parental and peer interactions), the developing PFC may develop in different ways. The goal of the current review is to illustrate how the circuitry of the developing PFC can be sculpted by a wide range of pre- and postnatal factors. We begin with an overview of prefrontal functioning and development, and we conclude with a consideration of how early experiences influence prefrontal development and behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17186-17196
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue numberSUPPL.2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2012


  • Dendritic spines
  • Metaplasticity
  • Neural plasticity
  • Prenatal stress
  • Psychoactive drugs

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