Welcome to my blog about neuroscience, where I simplistically explain neuroscience topics. Today’s topic is the cerebral cortex.

The cerebral cortex is the outermost layer of the brain.

It is primarily made up of gray matter that is extensively folded, forming ridges called gyri and grooves called sulci.

The folding substantially increases the surface area of the cerebral cortex, making room for more neural components.

Most of the cerebral cortex in humans is classified as neocortex, which is so named because it is thought to have appeared relatively recently in vertebrate evolution.

Neurons in the neocortex are typically arranged in six layers, which are distinguished from one another by differences in cell type and cell density.

The rest of the cerebral cortex is made up of either allocortex, which has a more variable pattern of layering, or mesocortex, which is a transition area between the neocortex and allocortex.

Although attempts to functionally subdivide the cerebral cortex tend to oversimplify its functions, one common approach is to divide the cortex into sensory areas, motor areas, and association areas.

Sensory areas receive information related to sensation, and include regions like the primary somatosensory cortex - which processes information about sensations like touch, pain, and temperature - primary visual ortex, and primary auditory cortex, as well as other areas devoted to sensations like olfaction, taste, and the vestibular senses.

The motor areas of the cerebral cortex are involved with movement, and include regions like the primary motor cortex, premotor cortex, and supplementary motor cortex.

Association areas are involved in the integration of information from multiple brain regions.

This integration can do things like add complexity to sensory perceptions or facilitate higher cognitive processes.

For example, the association areas in the parietal cortex are thought to be involved with aspects of attention and perceptual awareness, and association areas in the frontal cortex are linked to complex processes like planning, impulse control, and self awareness