Neuroscience Lesson Of The Day: Understanding The Neocortex
Introduction (Via AK Rambling Thoughts)
The neocortex is a mammalian invention, not present in birds, reptiles, or any other vertebrates. It’s associated with the increases in intelligence seen in mammals since the end of the Cretaceous, especially in primates, and more especially in humans. While there are dozens (probably hundreds) of discussions of the neocortex available on the Web, I haven’t been able to find one that meets my needs (for linking to in detailed discussions), so I’m going to produce my own, in the process discussing a recent paper which reflects on it.
The neocortex develops from a part of the developing neural tube called the telencephalic pallium. This is the part of the telencephalon that is towards the back (dorsal) and upper side (dorso-lateral), while the part towards the middle of the body (medial) develops into the hippocampus, including the dentate gyrus and some other parts of the brain associated with memory (especially spacial memory) and navigation. The bottom (ventral) part of the telencephalon develops into the basal nuclei, which “are associated with a variety of functions: motor control, cognition, emotions, and learning. “