Date Published: August 17, 2004
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Partial Text: As the presumed “seat of consciousness,” the cerebral cortex mediates the higher-level cognitive processing—such as abstract thought—that humans like to think distinguishes them from other animals. The cerebral cortex is, in fact, significantly larger in the human brain and has far more “columns” than it does in other mammals, particularly compared to the rat, a traditional model for brain study. Neurons in these cortical columns have similar response properties and form fundamental units of brain processing. It is the larger brain surface area, accommodating a greater number of cortical columns, that gives humans the computational edge.