What Is The Cerebral Cortex?
If the term “cerebral cortex” is new to you, it is important to define cerebral first. It refers to something that relates to the brain. In fact, cerebral definition comes from the Latin word “cerebrum” which means brain. Cerebral cortex is the gray matter of your brain. The thin layer of tissue called the cortex is grey because the nerves in this region are devoid of insulation that makes the other regions of the brain appear white. The outer portion of the cerebellum and cerebral are covered by the cortex. The portion of the cortex covering the cerebrum is referred to as the cerebral cortex.
How Does The Cerebral Cortex Look Like?
The cerebral cortex comprises of folded swellings called gyri that give rise to deep fissures or furrows called sulci. The folds in your brain increase your brains surface area, and thereby increase the quantity of gray matter and the amount of info that can be processed. This means that the higher the number of folds, the higher the quantity of info that can be processed, and hence the more intelligent is that person.
The Two Hemispheres Of The Cerebral Cortex
The cerebral cortex comprises approximately two thirds of your brain mass, and is divided into two hemispheres, namely the right and the left hemispheres. There is contralateral control exhibited between these. This means that the left hemisphere has control over the right side of your body, and the right hemisphere over the left side. Usually, those who are right handed have a stronger left hemisphere, and perform better at sequential and logical tasks; while those who are left handed have a stronger right hemisphere, and perform better at creative and spatial tasks.
A band named the corpus callosum separates the right and the left hemispheres of your brain, and is comprised of nerve fibers. The corpus callosum functions to send communicative signals between the two hemispheres. In certain cases when patients are diagnosed with severe epilepsy, in order to decrease the activity of seizures, the corpus callosum is removed surgically. This however renders them as split brain patients as their brain’s hemispheres are unable to communicate with each other. These brain portions act independently, and therefore it is as if the individual has two different brains. For instance, for most individuals the ability to visualize something pertains to the left hemisphere of the brain which has control over the right area of vision. If a split brain patient views a rose in his left visual area, he will not be able to see what he is seeing, but he will be able to write it with his right hand (but not with his left hand). So, the patient’s brain starts adapting itself to these disorders with time (this is known as plasticity) and the two hemispheres of the brain starts communicating again.
The Lobes Of The Cerebral Cortex
Your cerebral cortex has four lobes. However, since each lobe has a right side and a left side, there are eight lobes, to be specific. These lobes define cerebral cortex’s different functions. The different lobes are briefed below.
Frontal lobes: The frontal lobes are those lobes in the upper part of your brain right behind your eyes. Most of your personality related traits are located in this area of your brain. Your ability to take control over your thought and emotions is located here. The two different areas of the frontal lobe are the Motor Cortex and the Broca’s area.
Motor cortex: It is a thin tissue strip situated at the back of the frontal lobe. It signals your body to move. The upper part of the motor cortex has control over the lower regions of your body, while the lower part has a control over the upper regions of it.
Broca’s area: It is mostly situated in the left frontal lobe. This is responsible for having control over your mouth muscles that involves in complicated process of speech.
Parietal lobes: The parietal lobes are those situated in the back of the frontal lobes. One of the important structures located at the parietal lobe is the sensory cortex.
Sensory cortex: It is situated in the front region of the parietal lobe, and the sensation of touch pertains to it.
Occipital Lobes: They are situated in the back part of your brain, and are responsible for your eye’s vision. The primary visual cortex is contained in it. This interprets the info sent to your brain by your eyes.
Temporal lobes: The temporal lobes are situated right above your ears on both sides of your head. They have a control over your hearing as they contain the auditory cortex in them. They are the only parts of your brain that are not lateralized. That is, the left temporal lobe involves in hearing from both the sides of your ears. One of the important parts of the temporal lobe is the Wernicke’s area.
Wernickle’s area: This is located in your left temporal lobe. It is responsible for interpreting your language, both written and spoken. It is involved both in listening and in reading.
What Are The Functions Of The Cerebral Cortex?
The cerebral cortex is the most highly developed region of your brain, and this is the place where human thinking, production, perception and language understanding occurs. In the evolution of the human brain, the cerebral cortex is considered as the most recent structure.
The cerebral cortex is responsible for the processing of most of the actual information in your brain. The different lobes of the cerebral cortex are associated with specific important functions. The specific regions of this part of the brain are responsible for specific significant functions such as sight, touch, hearing, smell, movement, reasoning, thinking, language abilities etc.
Here is a list of functions associated with the specific regions of your cerebral cortex
- Prefrontal cortex – Is the site for your emotions, problem solving skills, and complex thinking.
- Motor Association Cortex – Coordinates the complex movements of your body.
- Primary Motor Cortex – Initiates the voluntary movement of your body.
- Primary Somatosensory Cortex – Receives tactile info from your body.
- Sensory Association Area – Processes the multisensory info that your body receives.
- Visual Association Area – Carries out the complex processing of the visual info received.
- Visual Cortex – Detects the simple visual stimuli received.
- Werricke’s Area – Comprehends your languages.
- Auditory Association Area – Carries out the complex processing of the auditory info received.
- Auditory Cortex – Detects the quality of sound received in terms of its tone, loudness, etc.
- Broca’s Area – Responsible for speech production and articulation.