The Human Cortex

Imagine your friend Cindy stands in front of you looking to her right, so that you can look directly at her left ear. And imagine that that somehow you could take her skull off and see her brain underneath (painlessly and temporarily, of course). This is what you’d see:

brain_1 (5)

Well, hers would be all gray, actually. The “Slice of Life” people, who graciously granted permission to use these slides, have colored the different “lobes” or main sections of the brain to help you find your way around Cindy’s head:

Position Color Lobe Name Function (very oversimplified)
back orange Occipital vision
top white Parietal sensation and muscle control
front blue Frontal abstract thought?; ideas into words
bottom green Temporal creating memory; names; words into speech

Notice that some of the functions of the brain are found in specific places. This has been learned over years, starting with the work of a fellow named Penfield, who was a surgeon. When people have surgery on their brain, they only need a local anesthetic to control the pain from cutting
their skin and skull, and can be awake and alert while the surgeon works on their brain. So Penfield made notes while poking at different places and discovered that people would see lights and spots if he poked at the back (occipital) lobe; and feel things if he poked at the back portion of the parietal area, or move body parts if he poked at the front portion of that lobe.

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