The decision-making and planning process that happens in the mind of a traveler.
It can happen in the line at the grocery store or an office desk during lunch hour. Before a tourist jet sets off onto their next adventure, they must plan out everything needed for the trip. It is not uncommon for these tasks to be outsourced to someone else, but everyone has a built-in, all-in-one strategist and organizer in their head!
Located in the most anterior section of the frontal lobe, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) handles cognitive functions associated with planning, organizing, and self-monitoring responses to achieve a goal. This objective can be anything from navigating social situations to figuring out how to climb a cliff.
Planning out the details of a trip also falls into the list of things you can accomplish with your prefrontal cortex!
Of course, the PFC doesn’t work on its own. Though there is evidence for other hypotheses, there is one widely accepted model for how this section of the brain coordinates details into a plan.
Generally, the PFC uses information that has been processed already by other areas–like the somatosensory regions–to create a plan and choose the next course of action. This choice is projected to the motor cortexes so you can act on your decision.
This is almost identical to how one would utilize a travel guide.
These guides compile all sorts of information to convince the reader to go to the place that is being advertised. A physical copy or the top of a digital magazine page may open with an image that is clear and inviting. The information inside will likely be written to invoke excitement, and the digital copy may even include sounds like music or of the local nature.
If all of this information piques your interest and is convincing, the reader will decide to go to the destination or agree that this is a place they would want to go.
Besides being a great marketing strategy, this is a great model for how the prefrontal cortex works.
In this scenario, the reader is the PFC, and the different information in the guides represents the other areas of the brain that process different stimuli.
The photos symbolize the visual cortex. The inviting language that makes the reader feel excited could represent the amygdala, and the music and sounds would appeal to the auditory cortex of the temporal lobes.
Together, this information is presented to the reader in a guide for decisions, and they can use more than one guide to make a final decision. Comparing information and potential choices is also something the PFC can do.
Once a decision is made, the PFC then outlines how behavior and following action should contribute to achieving the goal set by the decision and projects this information to the right cortex.
This only scratches the surface of the ability of the prefrontal cortex. More regions of the brain communicate with the PFC, and it has a few more capabilities other than what has been mentioned here. But, this subsection of the frontal lobe is a planning powerhouse, even if you still need a calendar from time to time.