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  1. Katarina Lukatela,
  2. Harvey A. Swadlow

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0591

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Lukatela, K. and Swadlow, H. A. 2010. Neocortex. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. Brown University Medical School

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Two cerebral hemispheres comprise the most anterior and visible portion of the mammalian brain. In humans, most of the surface of these hemispheres is covered by highly convoluted neocortex (“cortex,” derived from Greek, meaning bark or covering). Neocortex is found only in mammals and is differentiated from more primitive types of cortex by a complex morphology and lamination pattern. This tissue may be considered the “crown jewel” of mammalian evolution, having expanded more than any other brain region during our evolutionary history. The characteristic convolutions of the cortical surface represent a clever geometric solution to the challenge of fitting more of the two-dimensional neocortical sheet into a braincase without unduly increasing the size of the head. In humans, the neocortex occupies about 80% of the brain mass and is essential for cognitive functions such as rational thought, language, perception, and goal directed behavior.