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The cerebral cortex of the human brain contains approximately 20 billion neurons spread over an area of 2.5 m2. The primary sensory and motor areas constitute 10% of the cerebral cortex. The rest is subsumed by modality-selective, heteromodal, paralimbic, and limbic areas collectively known as the association cortex (Fig. 36-1). The association cortex mediates the integrative processes that subserve cognition, emotion, and comportment. A systematic testing of these mental functions is necessary for the effective clinical assessment of the association cortex and its diseases. According to current thinking, there are no centers for “hearing words,” “perceiving space,” or “storing memories.” Cognitive and behavioral functions (domains) are coordinated by intersecting large-scale neural networks that contain interconnected cortical and subcortical components. Five anatomically defined large-scale networks are most relevant to clinical practice: (1) a perisylvian network for language, (2) a parietofrontal network for spatial orientation, (3) an occipitotemporal network for face and object recognition, (4) a limbic network for retentive memory, and (5) a prefrontal network for the executive control of cognition and comportment.


Lateral (top) and medial (bottom) views of the cerebral hemispheres. The numbers refer to the Brodmann cyto­architectonic designations. Area 17 corresponds to the primary visual cortex, 41–42 to the primary auditory cortex, 1–3 to the primary somatosensory cortex, and 4 to the primary motor cortex. The rest of the cerebral cortex contains association areas. AG, angular gyrus; B, Broca’s area; CC, corpus callosum; CG, cingulate gyrus; DLPFC, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; FEF, frontal eye fields (premotor cortex); FG, fusiform gyrus; IPL, inferior parietal lobule; ITG, inferior temporal gyrus; LG, lingual gyrus; MPFC, medial prefrontal cortex; MTG, middle temporal gyrus; OFC, orbitofrontal cortex; PHG, parahippocampal gyrus; PPC, posterior parietal cortex; PSC, peristriate cortex; SC, striate cortex; SMG, supramarginal gyrus; SPL, superior parietal lobule; STG, superior temporal gyrus; STS, superior temporal sulcus; TP, temporopolar cortex; W, Wernicke’s area.


The areas that are critical for language make up a distributed network located along the perisylvian region of the left hemisphere. One hub, located in the inferior frontal gyrus, is known as Broca’s area. Damage to this region impairs phonology, fluency, and the grammatical structure of sentences. The location of a second hub, known as Wernicke’s area, is less clearly settled but is traditionally thought to include the posterior parts of the temporal lobe. Cerebrovascular accidents that damage this area interfere with the ability to understand spoken or written sentences as well as the ability to express thoughts through meaningful words and statements. These two hubs are interconnected with each other and with surrounding parts of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes. Damage to this network gives rise to language impairments known as aphasia. Aphasia should be diagnosed only when there are deficits in ...

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