The Cerebral Cortex

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The limbic system | Main Anatomy Index | Localisation of function of the cerebral cortex

Last updated 30 March 2006

The Cerebral Cortex


Histology of the Cerebral Cortex

Cortex Type Description
  • > 90% our total cortical area.
  • 6-layered structure.
  • Referred to as homogentic cortex.
  • Covers some restricted parts of the base of the telencephalon (olfactory areas).
  • Along with the archicortex, it is refereed to as heterogenic cortex.
  • It does not have a 6-layered structure.


Cell Types


Stellate (Granule) Cells


Pyramidal Cells


Horizontal Cells (of Cajal)


Fusiform Cells


Cells of Martinotti

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Cortical Layers

Number Name
I Molecular layer
II External granular layer
III External pyramidal layer
IV Internal granular layer
V Internal pyramidal layer
VI Multiform (polymorphic layer)
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Cortical Connections

Layer Afferent Input Efferent Output
I Association nuclei (thalamic)  
II Other cortical areas  
III Other cortical areas Corticocortical fibres
IV Thalamic nuclei (e.g., VPL, VPM, VA)  
V   Corticostriate and fibres to brainstem and spinal cord
VI Intralaminar nuclei (thalamic) Corticothalamic fibres
  1. The same hemisphere (association fibres);
  2. Or in the contralateral hemisphere (commissural fibres).
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Corticocortical Fibres

  1. There are very short ones that never leave the cortex;
  2. Or U-shaped fibres that dip under one sulcus to reach the next gyrus;
  3. And longer association fibres that travel to a different lobe.


Commissural Fibres

Corpus Callosum

  1. The hand area of the somatosensory cortex;
  2. And all of area 17 not representing areas adjacent to the vertical midline.


Anterior Commissure

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Association Fibres

Click here for a diagram of the association fibres.

Click here for a diagram of the association fibres in a coronal section.

  1. The superior longitudinal fasciculus;
  2. The superior and inferior occipitofrontal fasciculi;
  3. And the cingulum.


Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus


Superior Occipitofrontal Fasciculus


Inferior Occipitofrontal Fasciculus



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Michael Tam (c) 1998