Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Lukatela, K. and Swadlow, H. A. 2010. Neocortex. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- 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.