The cerebral cortex is probably the most recognizable part of the brain. The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of the brain made up of wrinkles, little folds, and bumps that are put together from grey matter and sometimes some white matter.
This cerebral cortex area is responsible for most of the recognizable aspects of a person's mind--things like personality, thought, language, the storage of memory, movement, and the senses. This means that your problem-solving skill is definitely related to processes of the cerebral cortex--including thought and memory.
Humans have a very developed cerebral cortex compared to a lot of other animals, which is why we're considered to be more intelligent and aware than those animals. It's important to note that humans don't have the largest brains out of every animal. That would be the whale, which is a much bigger animal, and as a result, it has a much bigger brain.
If you were to look at the brain from the top, you would see that the brain, or the cerebral cortex specifically, is divided into two halves, or hemispheres: the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere, with a little space in between, called the medial longitudinal fissure.
The two sides of the brain are connected by a bundle of neurons in between that is shown here in red below. That connecting area of the two hemispheres is known as the corpus callosum’.
It is important to note that we have two different hemispheres because it provides a sort of backup system for any brain function. There are two of each structure, so if one of them has a problem, the other one can help out.
Each side of the brain is responsible for specific functions. This specialization is called lateralization of function.
Generally, what is meant by lateralization of function is that people are neither left-brained or right-brained, as each side controls a different side of the body.
The left brain actually controls the right side of the body, meaning that your left brain sends signals to the right side of your body to move. Conversely, the right side of your brain controls the left side of your body.
EXAMPLEIf a stroke victim is having trouble moving their right arm, this means that the stroke damaged the left side of their brain.
Each side also controls different types of thinking. To determine this, there were studies done on people known as "split-brain patients." These are people who have had their corpus callosum--that connecting part in the middle of the brain--severed.
The corpus callosum is cut mainly because of epilepsy. This is a procedure to help people who experience major epileptic seizures.
What did they discover when the corpus callosum was cut? Surprisingly, people acted the same, because both eyes were able to see what was happening around them, which means that both sides of the brain could also see and react in their normal ways.
However, if you showed each eye a different image separately, they found that because that corpus callosum was severed, each eye only responded to one part of the brain.
EXAMPLEWhen the left hemisphere/right eye was shown an object, a person with a severed corpus callosum could identify the object. However, if the right hemisphere/left eye was shown an image, they couldn't actually say what that image was. If they were asked to draw whatever came to their mind, they were able to draw the image.
This is because the left side of the brain is related to logic, language, coordination. It's the analytical side of the brain, which is how a left-brained person would be described.
The right side of the brain is related to spatial, visual, or emotional aspects; it is the artistic or holistic side of the brain.
Self and Social Awareness: Skill Reflect
Each hemisphere, the left and the right, is further divided into the four different lobes of the cerebral cortex. Each of these lobes is a specific or generally defined area of the cerebral cortex that is related to different kinds of functions of the brain.
The frontal lobe is related to higher-level thinking tasks, like the sense of self, self-awareness, and personality, as well as movements. This is an area of the brain that is very highly developed in humans.
The parietal lobe is the area that is related to sensory issues, such as touch or temperature. The temporal lobe is related to hearing and language. Lastly, the occipital lobe is related to sight. So, each part of the brain is divided first into two hemispheres, right and left, and then into four lobes--frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital.
Research exploring damage to the frontal lobe has proven to assist in the discovery of the impact that the frontal lobe has on changes in an individual's personality and behavior.
The frontal lobe is responsible for a person's sense of self (e.g., self-awareness, impulse control, and emotions). Damage specifically to the prefrontal cortex can lead to changes in personality.
The prefrontal cortex is also related to reasoning and planning. It is responsible for higher-level cognitive abilities specific to humans.
One of the association areas that is important to language production specifically is Broca's area. Broca's area is named for a French neurosurgeon named Paul Broca.
Dr. Paul Broca noticed that patients with brain damage to this area of the brain were able to understand words, but could not actually produce speech. This is a condition called Broca's aphasia, where subjects are unable to produce speech even though they understand what other people are saying to them.
Specifically, this is an issue related to motor production and includes problems with grammar and pronunciation. Any kind of language the person is able to produce is very difficult to understand.
The primary motor cortex is arranged in such a way that larger areas of the prefrontal cortex are devoted to more important and specific, or more sensitive, areas of the body.
EXAMPLEHands have a much larger corresponding area in the brain because they're very sensitive and we need to manipulate them in complex ways. Similarly, the face and the tongue have larger areas of the prefrontal cortex devoted to their function because they are very sensitive and contain minute areas that people want to be able to control with a lot of precision.
A noteworthy area of the parietal lobe is the primary somatosensory cortex. The primary somatosensory cortex is the area that is directly related to processing all of the somatic sensory information received from the skin throughout the body.
There are larger areas of the somatosensory cortex devoted to more sensitive or intricate areas of the body, so the area in the brain devoted to feet is much smaller than the area devoted to hands, because function of hands is much more complex and intricate, and ultimately the things that we need to sense with them are more important.
The primary auditory area is the area directly at the top of the temporal lobe, located underneath the somatosensory cortex. This is the area that processes all information related to hearing.
In addition, there is an area in the temporal lobe that is related to the understanding of language, which makes sense because this concerns hearing. How do we understand language? Through hearing.
People with damage to this area of the brain, the primary visual area, can have all different sorts of agnosia. Agnosia means that a person is able to see an object, but they can't recognize it. Essentially, they take in the information, but they can't process it and make meaning out of it.
When Samantha sees a chair, she describes long, straight legs and a flat surface on the top, but she is unable to put those pieces together to say that it's a chair.
People can also have facial agnosia or prosopagnosia, which means they cannot recognize others by sight. They are unable to identify a person even if it is a close family member. However, if there is some auditory recognition when the person speaks, they can automatically recognize them. Why is that? Because the area of the brain involving auditory recognition has not been damaged.