Brain Cortex: Many Important Functions
Introduction (what it is)
The brain is responsible for interpreting and processing all the "information" sent by our body. And for this communication to occur, there are millions of neurons involved in the process.
The cerebral cortex is called the structure that contains the cell bodies of neurons, where nerve impulses arrive, which are processed and "returned" with a response to the body.
White dough x Gray dough
When it comes to cerebral cortex, it is also commonly called gray matter. Speaking of brain, one can categorize it into:
- White mass: the most central portion, which contains the axons of neurons. It has such an appearance because of the myelin sheath.
- Gray matter: As mentioned above, part that houses the gray-colored cell bodies located in the outermost portions of the brain.
Basically, one can subdivide the cortex into two large layers, which are:
- Isocortex: Within it, there is a new division into 6 layers, which are still defined in embryonic development.
- Allocortex: No clear distinction can be made.
And then, speaking of the isocortex layers, one has:
- molecular layer
- Outer granular layer
- External pyramidal layer
- Inner granular layer
- Inner pyramidal layer
- fusiform layer
The cortical surfaces, viewed macroscopically (ie, with the naked eye), have turns, grooves and circumvolutions.
The grooves and turns are responsible for the anatomical divisions into hemispheres (right and left) and lobes (frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital).
Meanwhile, circumvolutions are an adaptive mechanism for all brain mass to fit into the skullcap. So imagine them as a form of structural “compaction”.
The cerebral cortex will be divided into regions, which have already been detailed before, each responsible for a specific function.
Basically, the functions are summarized in:
Prefrontal: Cortex plays an important role in planning actions, emotions, and judgments.
- Pre-motor area: involved in the performance of complex movements.
- Primary motor cortex: initiation of movements.
- Sensory cortex: receives all tactile information from the body (including vibration, temperature and pain).
- Sensory association cortex: This is when all the sensational information is processed.
- Visual cortex: responsible for the vision and construction of the images.
- Speech Center: produces speech and articulates sound.
- Auditory association area: where sounds are processed and interpreted.
- Wernicke Area: responsible for understanding the language.
- The assessment of the cerebral cortex, when it requires mapping of structures, can be done through an imaging exam, which is magnetic resonance imaging.
- There is a concept of brain dominance, in which a hemisphere is best developed for given functions. For example, in most people, the left side is responsible (for being more specialized) for language.