Cerebral Cortex Diseases and Cortical Localization


The cerebral cortex, or outer cell layer of the brain, is divided into a mosaic of discrete areas with different functions: specific regions control vision, sensory and motor function, hearing, and language. Cortical degeneration, abnormality and disease affect brain function and behaviour.

Keywords: cerebral cortex; dementia; MRI; imaging; brain map

Figure 1.

Cortical layers and Brodmann areas. (a) The German anatomist Korbinian Brodmann divided the cortex into 52 regions, based on their cellular content. Each region contains distinct patterns of cells, and has a different function. The key (b) describes some of these functions. Reproduced, with permission, courtesy of Professor Mark Dubin, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Figure 2.

Cortical cells and cortical deficits in Alzheimer disease. (a) Shows four major classes of brain cell found in the cerebral cortex: pyramidal cells (P), spiny stellate cells (S), basket cells (B) and chandelier cells (C). (b) In Alzheimer disease, patients lose cortical grey matter (labelled in green). A colour‐coded map (c) shows the average pattern of grey matter loss in 26 Alzheimer patients. Red colours show regions with greatest deficits (10–30% tissue loss) relative to healthy elderly normal subjects. These disease‐specific differences are initially greatest in temporal and parietal association areas, and spread to engulf the rest of the cortex. Image (a) courtesy of John Bacheller, Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, University of California, Los Angeles.



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Further Reading

Diamond MC, Scheibel AB and Elson LM (1985) The Human Brain Coloring Book. Barnes and Noble Books: New York.

Frackowiak RSJ, Friston KJ, Frith CD, Dolan RJ and Mazziotta JC (1997) Human Brain Function. San Diego: Academic Press.

Kaas JH, Nelson RJ, Sur M, Lin CS and Merzenich MM (1979) Multiple representations of the body within the primary somatosensory cortex of primates. Science 204(4392): 521–523.

Kandel ER, Schwartz TH and Jessell TM (2000) Principles of Neural Science, 4th edn. New York: McGraw‐Hill.

Mazziotta JC, Toga AW and Frackowiak RSJ (2000) Brain Mapping: The Disorders. San Diego: Academic Press.

Raichle ME (2000) A brief history of functional brain mapping. In: Toga AW and Mazziotta JC (eds) Brain Mapping: The Systems, pp. 33–75. San Diego: Academic Press.

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Thompson, Paul M, and Toga, Arthur W(Jul 2003) Cerebral Cortex Diseases and Cortical Localization. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002195]