Cortex orbitofrontalis

Foreword: The brain works together as one whole. Brain functions are spread throughout the brain areas and result from the exchange between the areas.

However, complaints can be identified per brain area.


What does the name mean?

Cortex means cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex contains the 'gray cells' in the brain. Orbito means eye socket. Frontalis means at the front of the head.
The name therefore indicates the location in the head.



The orbitofrontal cortex (part of the prefrontal cortex) is involved in:

  • Reasoning
  • Planning
  • Decision making based on information that it receives from other brain structures (sound, taste, smell, touch and visual information (from the secondary visual area; temporal lobe))
  • Affective decisions (according to Antonio Demasio of the University of Iowa)
  • Learning associations between a stimulus and a reinforcer, i.e.: reward or punishment (according to Edmund Rolls of the University of Oxford)

According to Demasio, people with injuries in this area often have an inability to evaluate emotional stimuli and/or make decisions based on feedback of socio-emotionally relevant information.


Because of the fact that this part of the brain receives so much input from sensory stimuli, and this part of the brain has to evaluate, among other things, emotional stimuli, it is not surprising that it has effects on the emotions of some people with overstimulation caused by brain injury. In the image below this part of the brain is light blue.


Injury in this area

Injuries in this area can have a range of consequences, such as behavioral disinhibition. There can be problems if the relationship between the stimulus and the reinforcers are reversed. Then reward becomes punishment and punishment becomes reward.
Lesions in the frontal lobe can lead to frontal syndrome.


It is a dramatic change in social behavior and inability to regulate emotions.

A person's personality can undergo significant changes after an injury to the frontal lobes, especially when both lobes, left and right, are involved.
We have written the page about frontal syndrome about the changes in behavior and reactions.


Part of the limbic system

The cortex orbitofrontalis belongs to the limbic system.

The limbic system is located at the edge below the cerebral lobes.
The entire limbic system is formed by a group of brain structures in the cerebrum that are involved in emotion, emotion regulation,
emotional memory, pleasure and motivation.

Hormones are produced here, among other things, and temperature and appetite are regulated.
Damage to the limbic system can bring the hormonal system out of balance. The ability to perceive hunger or a feeling of satiety
taking is reduced and emotional responses may change.



Damasio, A.R. (1994). Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Putnam, New York
Kessels, R., Eling, P., Ponds, R., Spikman, J & Zandvoort, M. van (Red.) (2012). Klinische neuropsychologie. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Boom
Nieuwenhuys, R., Voogd, J., Huijzen, C. van (1988). The human central nervous system: a synopsis and atlas (3de uitgave). Berlijn/Heidelberg/New York: Springer
Rolls, E. R. (1999). The brain and Emotion. Oxford University Press. Oxford