What is the Neocortex?

When looking at the animal world, there has always been the discussion "What creature has the most intelligence?". Based on the development of our brains, and how we've colonized the world, most people agree on humans being in the #1 spot. But why? What gives us this ability to think in higher functions than just survival? And what other animals would be next on the list, possibly surpassing us humans in certain ways? Well all of this talk is highly connected to the Neocortex - a super important part of a mammal's brain that is involved in all those higher functions and thoughts. The Neocortex has only been found in the brains of mammals, and is a six-layer cortex and helps with a variety of functions that let us experience the world and think in more advanced ways:

  • Sensory Perception - being able to understand the different senses we have, and react when they are stimulated
  • Motor Functions - Planning and making voluntary movements
  • Language - Helping us communicate and understand each other
  • Spatial Reasoning - Helping us see 2D and 3D images in our mind, which is now very important with technology such as virtual reality, and dealing with the user interface in many apps and games.

While humans are generally credited with making the most use of our neocortex, it helps all mammals think and process in advanced ways. Dolphins are actually the mammal that has been found to have the most neocortex. In smaller mammals like rodents, the neocortex is smooth, while larger mammals have deep grooves and ridges. Although there are many different traits and skills that animals have evolved, higher brain function is always something very important to look at...and that might be where us mammals usually take the cake!

 

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