Scientists Discover 'New' Area of Brain

Region helps us ponder what could have been
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2014 11:19 AM CST
Updated Jan 29, 2014 11:37 AM CST
Scientists Discover 'New' Area of Brain
Scientists have located a "new" part of the brain.   (Shutterstock)

Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? If you find yourself plagued by the question, thank the lateral frontal pole behind each of your eyebrows, says Oxford researcher Matthew Rushworth. The lateral frontal pole is a newly identified part of your brain which, scientists believe, helps us recognize when we've made poor decisions. "There are a few brain areas that monitor how good our choices are, and that is a very sensible thing to have. But this region monitors how good the choices are that we didn't take," notes Rushworth.

Researchers zeroed in on the lateral front pole by scanning 25 people's brains using two imaging techniques. Putting the scans together helped the scientists learn about connections between the ventrolateral frontal cortex—which deals with language and cognition—and the rest of the brain, the Guardian reports. From there, the experts divided the ventrolateral frontal cortex into 12 regions, and then scanned monkeys' brains looking for those same regions. The scans indicate that monkeys have 11 of them—but only humans have the lateral frontal pole, Science 2.0 reports. In other words, the site notes, it's part of "what makes us human." (More brain news: Older brains aren't weaker.)

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