> I am wondering what is the cause of localized activity in the cerebral
> cortex. My question is sparked by some lovely pictures on the cover
> of the book "Mapp- ing the Brain and its Functions" written by the
> Institute of Medicine.
> Is this activity driven by the signals coming in?
>> Is there competition in the cortex for this sort of activity?
>> Are these signals gated by lower brain regions (ie thalamus or lower)?
Whenever I think about the cortex, I think of an analogy with a large
society, the population of the US, say. Now although there are
doctors, lawyers, plumbers and musicians in almost every town in every
state, there is an unusually high concentration of doctors in Boston,
lawyers in Philidelphia, politicians in Washington DC, etc. My guess
is that this is similar to the organization of the cortex.
When there is a war in the gulf, say, then you will probably see an
increase in the number of telephone calls in the DC area. Not all of
these are war related, and not all war related calls are centered on
DC, but if you could draw a map of telephone activity I'll bet you
will see certain hot-spots of activity especially in those locations
that have become specialized for military or political functions.
Why does the brain have specialized areas? Well, I suspect, again,
that its for pretty much the same reason why the US has specialized
areas, because it makes it easier for the specialists to get together
to work on big problems. Why are those areas not completely
specialized? Well, again, even lawyers and politicians need to eat
and sleep, drive to work, send letters, etc. so part and parcel of any
specialized activity is a whole host of generalized support
That's my guess!
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