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Structure and Function of the Cerebral Cortex

Dr Oliver Finlay


KEY POINTS


· Structural changes in the cerebral cortex in response to chronic stress can impact mental and physical health, leading to difficulties with decision-making and emotional regulation, which can increase the risk of disorders such as depression and anxiety. Changes in the morphology of neurons in the cerebral cortex can lead to cognitive deficits and impaired learning and memory.

· Ageing can lead to structural and functional changes in the cerebral cortex, which can potentially lead to declines in sensory processing, memory, decision-making, and cognitive function. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help to maintain cognitive function and promote neural plasticity in the ageing brain.

· Good nutrition can have positive impacts on cognitive function and reduce the risk of neurological disorders. Poor nutrition and chronic dehydration can have negative impacts on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex, leading to cognitive deficits and increased risk of neurological disorders.

· Adequate sleep is essential for the health and function of the cerebral cortex. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive impairments and an increased risk of neurological disorders, while sufficient sleep can improve cognitive function and support optimal brain function.

· Aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and HIIT can all have positive impacts on brain health, including increased cortical volume and improved cognitive function. These effects may be due to increased blood flow, oxygen delivery, and levels of growth factors in the brain.

· Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease are examples of neurodegenerative diseases that can affect the cerebral cortex. While the physiological mechanisms underlying these diseases are complex, they generally involve the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, leading to damage and death of neurons in the cerebral cortex and other parts of the brain.




Structure of the Cerebral Cortex


One of the most important parts of the brain is the cerebral cortex, which is the outermost layer of the brain and is made up of six layers, each of which has a different structure and function.


The first layer, also known as the molecular layer, is the thinnest layer and contains mainly axons and dendrites. The second layer, the external granular layer, contains small neurons that receive input from the thalamus and other parts of the brain.

The third layer, the external pyramidal layer, contains larger neurons that send their axons to other parts of the cortex and to subcortical structures. The fourth layer, the internal granular layer, is the thickest layer and contains small neurons that receive input from the thalamus and other parts of the brain.


The fifth layer, the internal pyramidal layer, contains large neurons that send their axons to other parts of the cortex and to subcortical structures. The sixth and final layer, the multiform layer, contains a mixture of small and large neurons that send their axons to other parts of the cortex and to subcortical structures.


Each layer of the cerebral cortex has a unique structure and function, and they all work together to process information from the environment and from other parts of the brain. The cortex is also divided into different regions that specialise in different functions, such as vision, hearing, and language.


Overall, the structure of the cerebral cortex is complex and intricate, but it is essential for the functioning of the human brain. By studying the different layers and regions of the cortex, scientists can better understand how the brain works and how to treat neurological disorders that affect the cortex.


Function of the Cerebral Cortex


The cerebral cortex plays a vital role in a wide range of functions, including sensation, perception, movement, and higher-order thinking. It is responsible for our ability to perceive the world around us, make decisions, and interact with others.

One of the primary functions of the cerebral cortex is sensation, which allows us to perceive the world through our senses. Different regions of the cortex are specialised for processing different types of sensory information, such as vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.


The cortex also plays a critical role in movement, with different regions controlling different types of movements. For example, the motor cortex is responsible for voluntary movements such as walking, talking, and reaching.


In addition to sensation and movement, the cerebral cortex is also involved in higher-order thinking processes such as attention, memory, language, and decision-making. Different regions of the cortex are specialised for processing different types of information and carrying out specific functions. For example, the prefrontal cortex is involved in decision-making and social behaviour, while the temporal lobe is involved in memory and language processing.


The functioning of the cerebral cortex is complex and involves intricate interactions between different regions of the brain. When we experience something, such as seeing a beautiful sunset, the sensory information is first processed in the sensory regions of the cortex. This information is then sent to other regions of the cortex for further processing and integration with other information. Finally, the cortex sends signals to other parts of the brain to initiate a response, such as feeling happy or taking a photo of the sunset.


Understanding the function of the cerebral cortex is essential for understanding the workings of the brain as a whole. By studying the different regions of the cortex and their functions, scientists can better understand how the brain processes information and how to treat neurological disorders that affect the cortex.



Chronic Stress and the Cerebral Cortex



Chronic stress is a condition that can have significant impacts on mental and physical health. Research has shown that chronic stress can cause changes in the structure and function of the brain, including the cerebral cortex.


Studies have shown that chronic stress can lead to a reduction in the volume of the cerebral cortex, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision-making and emotional regulation. This reduction in volume can be caused by a decrease in the number of neurons and synapses, which are the connections between neurons.


Chronic stress can also affect the morphology of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that chronic stress can cause the dendrites, which are the branches of neurons that receive information from other neurons, to become shorter and less complex. This can impair the ability of neurons to communicate with each other and can lead to cognitive deficits, such as difficulty with memory and attention.


Furthermore, chronic stress can affect the plasticity of the cerebral cortex, which refers to the brain's ability to change and adapt in response to new experiences. Studies have shown that chronic stress can impair the brain's ability to adapt and change, which can have negative impacts on mental and physical health.


The structural changes in the cerebral cortex in response to chronic stress can have significant impacts on mental and physical health. For example, reduced volume and impaired plasticity in the prefrontal cortex can lead to difficulties with decision-making and emotional regulation, which can increase the risk of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Furthermore, changes in the morphology of neurons in the cerebral cortex can lead to cognitive deficits and impaired learning and memory.



Ageing and the Cerebral Cortex



Structurally, ageing is associated with a reduction in the size and volume of the cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that as we age, the cerebral cortex becomes thinner and its surface area decreases. This is due in part to a loss of neurons and synapses, which are the connections between neurons that allow for communication between brain cells.


The changes in the cerebral cortex are not limited to its structure alone; there are also functional changes that occur with ageing. The processing of sensory information, such as vision and hearing, can decline with age due to changes in the cortex. Additionally, the areas of the cortex involved in memory and decision-making can also be affected, leading to cognitive decline and impairments in daily functioning.


One of the primary functional changes that occurs in the cerebral cortex with ageing is a decline in neural plasticity. This refers to the brain's ability to adapt and change in response to new experiences. As we age, the brain becomes less able to form new connections between neurons and modify existing connections, which can lead to difficulty in learning and adapting to new situations.


Despite these structural and functional changes, it is important to note that the ageing brain is still capable of learning and adapting. Studies have shown that engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, playing games, and learning new skills can help to maintain cognitive function and promote neural plasticity in the cerebral cortex.



Nutrition and the Cerebral Cortex



Studies have shown that both good and bad nutrition, as well as hydration and dehydration, can have significant impacts on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex.


Good nutrition, including a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, is essential for the proper development and function of the cerebral cortex. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants have been shown to have a positive impact on brain health, including improved memory, attention, and cognitive function.


Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, have been shown to have neuroprotective properties and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can increase the volume of the cerebral cortex, particularly in areas involved in memory and learning. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve cognitive function, including attention and executive function.


B vitamins, including vitamin B12 and folic acid, are essential for brain health and play a role in the development and maintenance of the cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that deficiencies in these vitamins can lead to cognitive impairments, including memory deficits and decreased cognitive function. Furthermore, research has suggested that B vitamins can help to reduce the risk of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.


Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, have been shown to have neuroprotective properties and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Research has suggested that antioxidants can protect against oxidative stress, which can damage brain cells and lead to cognitive impairments. Additionally, some studies have shown that antioxidants may improve cognitive function, including memory and attention.


On the other hand, bad nutrition, such as a diet high in trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods, can have negative impacts on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. These types of foods have been linked to cognitive deficits, such as memory impairment and decreased attention span, and an increased risk of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.


Trans fats, which are commonly found in fried foods and baked goods, have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Studies have shown that trans fats can damage brain cells and reduce the volume of the cerebral cortex, particularly in areas involved in memory and learning.


Saturated fats, which are found in high-fat dairy products, red meat, and processed foods, have also been shown to have negative effects on brain health. Research has suggested that high levels of saturated fat can lead to cognitive impairments, including memory deficits and decreased attention span.


Sugar, particularly added sugars found in processed foods and beverages, can also have negative effects on brain health. Studies have shown that high sugar intake can lead to cognitive impairments, including memory deficits and decreased cognitive function. Furthermore, research has suggested that a high sugar diet can increase the risk of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.


Processed foods, which often contain high levels of trans fats, saturated fats, and sugar, have been linked to cognitive impairments and an increased risk of neurological disorders. Research has suggested that a diet high in processed foods can lead to decreased cognitive function and an increased risk of dementia.


The human body is composed of around 60% water, and proper hydration is essential for overall health, including brain health. Dehydration, or a lack of adequate water intake, can have negative effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that dehydration can reduce the volume of the cerebral cortex, particularly in areas involved in attention and motor function. Furthermore, dehydration has been linked to cognitive impairments, including decreased attention span, slower reaction time, and decreased cognitive function.


Furthermore, chronic dehydration can have long-term effects on the structure of the cerebral cortex. Studies have shown that chronic dehydration can lead to reductions in the volume of the cerebral cortex, particularly in the areas responsible for memory and attention.


On the other hand, proper hydration has been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that adequate water intake can improve cognitive function, including memory and attention. Furthermore, hydration has been linked to increased brain activity and blood flow to the brain, which can support optimal brain function.


In addition to water, other fluids such as herbal teas and low-sugar juices can also help with hydration. However, it is important to limit the intake of sugary beverages, as high sugar intake has been linked to cognitive impairments and an increased risk of neurological disorders.



Sleep and the Cerebral Cortex



During sleep, the brain undergoes a process called synaptic pruning, which helps to strengthen important neural connections and eliminate unnecessary ones. This process is important for the structure and function of the cerebral cortex, which is involved in many cognitive processes, including attention, perception, and memory.


Sleep deprivation, or a lack of adequate sleep, can have negative effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that sleep deprivation can lead to decreased cortical volume and reduced grey matter density, particularly in areas involved in attention, working memory, and decision-making.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation has been linked to cognitive impairments, including decreased attention span, slower reaction time, and decreased cognitive function. Chronic sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased risk of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.


On the other hand, adequate sleep has been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that sufficient sleep can improve cognitive function, including memory and attention. Furthermore, sleep has been linked to increased brain activity and improved brain connectivity, which can support optimal brain function.



Exercise and the Cerebral Cortex



Studies have shown that different types of exercise can have varying effects on the brain.


Aerobic exercise, which involves activities such as running, cycling, and swimming, has been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that aerobic exercise can increase cortical volume, particularly in areas involved in memory and executive function.


Furthermore, aerobic exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function, including increased attention and working memory. This may be due to increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain, which can support optimal brain function.


Resistance exercise, which involves activities such as weightlifting, has also been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that resistance exercise can increase grey matter volume and improve brain connectivity, particularly in areas involved in motor function.

Resistance exercise has also been linked to improved cognitive function, including increased attention and working memory. This may be due to increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is involved in the growth and survival of neurons.


High-intensity interval training (HIIT), which involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest, has also been shown to have positive effects on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Research has suggested that HIIT can increase cortical volume, particularly in areas involved in attention and working memory.


Furthermore, HIIT has been linked to improved cognitive function, including increased attention and working memory. This may be due to increased levels of BDNF and other growth factors, which can support optimal brain function.



Neurodegenerative Disease and the Cerebral Cortex



Various neurodegenerative diseases can have a significant impact on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex, leading to cognitive decline and other symptoms.

One example of a neurodegenerative disease that affects the cerebral cortex is Alzheimer's disease. In Alzheimer's, there is a build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, including beta-amyloid and tau. These proteins can damage neurons in the cerebral cortex, leading to atrophy and shrinkage of the cortex.


As a result, people with Alzheimer's often experience cognitive decline, including memory loss, difficulty with language, and impaired judgment. There may also be changes in behaviour and mood, including depression and anxiety.


Another neurodegenerative disease that affects the cerebral cortex is Parkinson's disease. In Parkinson's, there is a loss of neurons in the substantia nigra, a part of the brain that produces dopamine, a chemical messenger involved in movement and coordination.


The loss of dopamine-producing neurons can lead to symptoms, including tremors, rigidity, and difficulty with movement. In addition, there may be changes in cognition, including difficulty with memory and executive function.


Huntington's disease is another neurodegenerative disease that affects the cerebral cortex. In Huntington's, there is a genetic mutation that leads to the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain. These proteins can damage neurons in the cerebral cortex and other parts of the brain, leading to atrophy and shrinkage. As a result, people with Huntington's often experience symptoms, including movement disorders, cognitive decline, and changes in behaviour and mood.


The physiological mechanisms underlying these neurodegenerative diseases are complex and not fully understood. However, in general, they involve the accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain, leading to damage and death of neurons in the cerebral cortex and other parts of the brain.



Conclusion


The cerebral cortex is a highly complex and critical part of the brain that is involved in a range of important functions. It is responsible for processing sensory information, controlling voluntary movement, and regulating consciousness, thought, and behaviour.


When we experience stress, our bodies respond by releasing a hormone called cortisol, which can have an impact on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Chronic stress has been linked to changes in the structure of the cortex, including reduced grey matter volume in areas associated with cognitive and emotional processing.


Sleep is also important for the health and function of the cerebral cortex. During sleep, the brain undergoes a process of consolidation and pruning, which helps to strengthen important connections and eliminate unnecessary ones.


Good nutrition and hydration are essential for the health of the cerebral cortex. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, have been shown to have a positive impact on brain function and cognitive performance. On the other hand, diets high in trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods have been linked to cognitive decline and other negative effects on the brain.


Regular exercise, including aerobic exercise, resistance training, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT), has been shown to have a positive impact on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Exercise has been linked to increased grey matter volume, improved cognitive performance, and reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases.


As we age, the structure and function of the cerebral cortex can change. These changes may include reduced grey matter volume, changes in connectivity between brain regions, and decreased cognitive function. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's, can also have a significant impact on the structure and function of the cerebral cortex, leading to cognitive decline and other symptoms.





REFERENCES & EVALUATION OF SCIENTIFIC POWER


Agosta, F., Galantucci, S. and Filippi, M., 2017. Advanced magnetic resonance imaging of neurodegenerative diseases. Neurological Sciences, 38(1), pp.41-51.


OVERVIEW: This article reviews the advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques used to study neurodegenerative diseases. These techniques include diffusion-weighted imaging, magnetisation transfer imaging, and functional MRI, which provide detailed information about changes in brain structure and function in these diseases.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of advanced MRI techniques used to study neurodegenerative diseases. It also discusses how these techniques can be used to differentiate between different types of neurodegenerative diseases and monitor disease progression.

LIMITATIONS: The article does not cover other imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which are also commonly used in the study of neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, the article does not go into detail about the limitations of these advanced MRI techniques.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The article provides a thorough review of the advanced MRI techniques used to study neurodegenerative diseases and their potential clinical applications. However, it does not present any new research findings and does not cover all imaging techniques used in this field.



Armonaite, K., Nobili, L., Paulon, L., Balsi, M., Conti, L. and Tecchio, F., 2023. Local neurodynamics as a signature of cortical areas: new insights from sleep. Cerebral Cortex, 33(6), pp.3284-3292


OVERVIEW: This article discusses how the activity of different cortical areas in the brain during sleep can be used to identify and differentiate between these areas. The authors also suggest that changes in these local neurodynamics during sleep may be an indicator of neurological disorders.

STRENGTHS: The article presents novel findings on how local neurodynamics during sleep can be used to identify cortical areas in the brain. The study provides evidence that this technique could be used as a diagnostic tool for neurological disorders.

LIMITATIONS: The study was limited by a small sample size and the use of only healthy participants. Additionally, the article does not go into detail about the specific neurological disorders that may be diagnosed using this technique.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study provides new insights into how local neurodynamics during sleep can be used to identify cortical areas in the brain and potentially diagnose neurological disorders. However, the study was limited by a small sample size and the use of only healthy participants.



Błaszczyk, J.W., 2020. Energy metabolism decline in the aging brain—Pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. Metabolites, 10(11), p.450.


OVERVIEW: The article discusses the decline in energy metabolism in the aging brain and how it leads to the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The author highlights the importance of mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired glucose metabolism in the aging brain as the main factors responsible for the decrease in energy production and the accumulation of toxic substances in neurons.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the existing literature on the relationship between energy metabolism and neurodegenerative disorders, focusing on the aging brain. The author explains the underlying mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of these disorders, including mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation. Additionally, the article proposes potential therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders by targeting the metabolic pathways involved.

LIMITATIONS: The article is a review of existing literature and does not provide any new experimental data. It could have benefited from more detailed discussion on the limitations of the existing studies on energy metabolism in the aging brain and the need for further research in this area.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - It provides a comprehensive review of the existing literature on the topic and proposes potential therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disorders. However, the article does not provide any new experimental data or discuss limitations of the existing studies, which would have increased its scientific power.



Carne, R.P., Vogrin, S., Litewka, L. and Cook, M.J., 2006. Cerebral cortex: an MRI-based study of volume and variance with age and sex. Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, 13(1), pp.60-72.


OVERVIEW: The article uses MRI imaging to study the volume and variance of the cerebral cortex in relation to age and sex. The authors aimed to investigate the structural changes that occur in the cerebral cortex with aging and sex differences.

STRENGTHS: The study is unique in its approach to using MRI imaging to study the structural changes in the cerebral cortex with aging and sex differences. The authors utilized a large sample size, including both males and females, to examine the differences in cortical volume and variance across the lifespan. Additionally, the study provides important data on the differences in cortical thickness between males and females and between different regions of the brain.

LIMITATIONS: The study was limited to a single sample population and did not take into account any potential confounding factors such as lifestyle, genetics, or environmental factors. Additionally, the study focused solely on cortical volume and thickness and did not examine other structural changes in the brain such as white matter changes.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study provides important data on the structural changes in the cerebral cortex with aging and sex differences. However, the study was limited to a single sample population and did not take into account potential confounding factors, which would have increased its scientific power. Additionally, the study focused solely on cortical volume and thickness and did not examine other structural changes in the brain.



Churchill, J.D., Galvez, R., Colcombe, S., Swain, R.A., Kramer, A.F. and Greenough, W.T., 2002. Exercise, experience and the aging brain. Neurobiology of Aging, 23(5), pp.941-955.


OVERVIEW: This study explores how exercise can affect the aging brain by increasing the number of connections between neurons and stimulating the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is important for learning and memory. The study also investigates how different types of exercise, such as aerobic exercise, resistance exercise, and high-intensity interval training, can have different effects on the brain.

STRENGTHS: The study provides evidence from both animal and human studies and uses a variety of techniques to measure changes in the brain, such as examining brain tissue and using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The study also highlights the importance of a long-term exercise program, suggesting that regular exercise over time is necessary to produce significant changes in the brain.

LIMITATIONS: The study does not investigate the potential negative effects of exercise on the brain or compare the effects of exercise to other interventions, such as cognitive training. Additionally, the study does not address the effects of exercise on specific populations, such as those with neurodegenerative diseases.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study draws on a large body of research and uses a variety of techniques to measure changes in the brain, providing a comprehensive understanding of how exercise can affect the aging brain. However, the study's focus on animal studies and lack of investigation into negative effects of exercise on the brain limits its overall scientific power.



De Andrés, I.T., Garzón, M. and Reinoso-Suárez, F., 2011. Functional anatomy of non-REM sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 2, p.70.


OVERVIEW: This study examines the brain activity during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which is a crucial stage of sleep for memory consolidation, brain repair and metabolic restoration. The study also investigates how different regions of the brain communicate with each other during NREM sleep and the role of neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, in regulating this activity.

STRENGTHS: The study provides a detailed overview of the brain regions involved in NREM sleep and the physiological processes that occur during this stage of sleep. The study also draws on a variety of techniques to measure brain activity during sleep, such as electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), providing a comprehensive understanding of how the brain functions during sleep.

LIMITATIONS: The study is primarily based on animal studies, which may not fully capture the complexity of human sleep. Additionally, the study does not investigate the impact of sleep deprivation on the brain or compare NREM sleep to other stages of sleep.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study provides valuable insights into the brain activity during NREM sleep and the role of neurotransmitters in regulating this activity, drawing on a variety of techniques to measure brain activity during sleep. However, the study's focus on animal studies and limited investigation into the impact of sleep deprivation on the brain limits its overall scientific power.



De Courten-Myers, G.M., 1999. The human cerebral cortex: gender differences in structure and function. Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology, 58(3), pp.217-226.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the differences between the brains of men and women, specifically in the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is responsible for many of the brain's higher functions, such as language and decision-making. The article suggests that there are differences in the structure and function of the cerebral cortex between males and females. The research suggests that these differences may be due to both genetic and environmental factors.

STRENGTHS: The article provides important insights into the brain and how it works. The research may help us better understand gender differences in cognitive functioning, which could have important implications for fields like education and medicine.

LIMITATIONS: The article is based on a review of previous research, which means that the conclusions are not based on original research. Additionally, the research that the article is based on may have limitations, such as small sample sizes or the use of animal models.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the article is based on a review of previous research, the conclusions are still based on scientific evidence. However, the limitations of the research mean that the scientific power is moderate.



Gulyássy, P., Todorov-Völgyi, K., Tóth, V., Györffy, B.A., Puska, G., Simor, A., Juhász, G., Drahos, L. and Kékesi, K.A., 2022. The effect of sleep deprivation and subsequent recovery period on the synaptic proteome of rat cerebral cortex. Molecular Neurobiology, pp.1-19.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the effect of sleep deprivation on the synaptic proteome of the rat cerebral cortex. The synaptic proteome refers to the collection of proteins that are involved in the communication between neurons.

STRENGTHS: The research provides important insights into the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain. Specifically, the article suggests that sleep deprivation can cause changes in the proteins involved in neuronal communication. These changes could have important implications for cognitive functioning.

LIMITATIONS: The research was conducted on rats, so the results may not be directly applicable to humans. Additionally, the study was conducted in a laboratory setting, which may not reflect real-world conditions.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The research provides scientific evidence of the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain. While the study was conducted on rats, the findings could have important implications for human health.



Haack, D., Luu, H., Cho, J., Chen, M.J. and Russo-Neustadt, A., 2008. Exercise reverses chronic stress-induced Bax oligomer formation in the cerebral cortex. Neuroscience Letters, 438(3), pp.290-294.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the effects of exercise on the brain in response to chronic stress. Chronic stress has been shown to lead to increased levels of Bax oligomers, which can cause cell death in the cerebral cortex. The study aimed to investigate whether exercise could reverse this effect and promote neuroprotection. Overall, the study suggests that exercise could reverse the negative effects of chronic stress on the brain and promote neuroprotection, which could have important implications for the development of therapeutic strategies for stress-related disorders.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established animal model to investigate the effects of exercise on Bax oligomer formation in the cerebral cortex. The results showed that exercise could reverse the chronic stress-induced formation of Bax oligomers, leading to a decrease in cell death in the cerebral cortex. The findings provide evidence for the beneficial effects of exercise on brain function and suggest potential therapeutic strategies for mitigating the effects of chronic stress.

LIMITATIONS: The study only investigated the effects of exercise on Bax oligomer formation in male rats, and the results may not necessarily apply to other animals or humans. The sample size was also relatively small, and further studies with larger sample sizes would be required to confirm the results. Additionally, the study did not investigate the long-term effects of exercise on Bax oligomer formation and cell death in the cerebral cortex.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - It used a well-established animal model and provided evidence for the beneficial effects of exercise on the brain in response to chronic stress. However, the limitations, such as the small sample size and lack of investigation of long-term effects, suggest that further research is necessary to confirm the findings.



Hagmann, P., Cammoun, L., Gigandet, X., Meuli, R., Honey, C.J., Wedeen, V.J. and Sporns, O., 2008. Mapping the structural core of human cerebral cortex. PLoS Biology, 6(7), p.e159.


OVERVIEW: The article provides a detailed analysis of the structural core of the human cerebral cortex, using a novel imaging technique. The authors argue that the cortical architecture is not just random, but instead follows a highly organized structure that includes hubs and nodes. The study provides insight into how the brain processes information and communicates within itself.

STRENGTHS: The authors used a novel imaging technique called diffusion MRI tractography to construct the structural core of the human cerebral cortex, which provided a more detailed analysis of the underlying structure than previous studies. Additionally, the authors examined the connectivity of the cortical hubs, which play a central role in information processing and communication within the brain.

LIMITATIONS: While the study provides a detailed analysis of the structural core of the human cerebral cortex, it does not investigate the functional significance of these hubs and nodes. Further research is necessary to fully understand the role of these cortical structures in information processing and cognitive functioning.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - The authors used a novel imaging technique that provided a more detailed analysis of the underlying structure of the human cerebral cortex than previous studies. The study’s findings have significant implications for understanding how the brain processes information and communicates within itself.



Hogstrom, L.J., Westlye, L.T., Walhovd, K.B. and Fjell, A.M., 2013. The structure of the cerebral cortex across adult life: age-related patterns of surface area, thickness, and gyrification. Cerebral Cortex, 23(11), pp.2521-2530.


OVERVIEW: This article investigates how the structure of the cerebral cortex changes across the lifespan. The researchers measured the surface area, thickness, and gyrification of the cortex in a large group of adults ranging from 22 to 88 years old. They found that certain areas of the cortex showed consistent changes with age, while other areas were more variable.

STRENGTHS: This study used a large sample size, which makes the results more reliable. The researchers also used advanced imaging techniques to measure the structure of the cortex with high precision. The study provides valuable information on how the brain changes with age, which could be useful for understanding and treating age-related cognitive decline.

LIMITATIONS: This study only looked at healthy individuals, so it is unclear how the results would differ in people with neurological conditions. Additionally, the study did not examine functional changes in the cortex, only structural changes.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - This study used a large sample size and advanced imaging techniques to measure the structure of the cortex, which increases the reliability of the results. However, the study only examined structural changes in healthy individuals, which limits its generalisability.



Honey, C.J., Kötter, R., Breakspear, M. and Sporns, O., 2007. Network structure of cerebral cortex shapes functional connectivity on multiple time scales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(24), pp.10240-10245.


OVERVIEW: This article explores how the structure of the cerebral cortex affects functional connectivity within the brain. The researchers used computer simulations to model the network structure of the cortex and found that different network structures produce different patterns of functional connectivity.

STRENGTHS: This study used computer simulations to model brain networks, which allowed the researchers to manipulate the network structure and observe how it affects functional connectivity. The study provides valuable insights into how the structure of the brain affects its function.

LIMITATIONS: The study used computer simulations, which may not perfectly reflect the complexity of the brain. Additionally, the study only examined a single model of the cortex, so it is unclear whether the results would generalise to other models.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - This study used computer simulations to investigate the relationship between brain structure and function, which allowed the researchers to manipulate variables and observe their effects. However, the study only examined a single model of the cortex, which limits the generalisability of the results.



Huttenlocher, P.R., 2002. Neural plasticity: The effects of environment on the development of the cerebral cortex. Harvard University Press.


OVERVIEW: This book discusses the concept of neural plasticity, which is the brain's ability to adapt and change in response to environmental experiences. The author focuses on the development of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive functions, and how it is shaped by environmental experiences during different stages of development.

STRENGTHS: The book provides a comprehensive overview of the concept of neural plasticity and its relevance to the development of the cerebral cortex. The author uses a multidisciplinary approach, drawing from research in neuroscience, psychology, and sociology, to provide a broad perspective on the topic. The book is well-written and accessible to a wide range of readers.

LIMITATIONS: The book was published in 2002, and some of the research cited may be outdated. The author focuses mainly on animal studies and may not fully represent the complexity of human brain development. Some readers may find the book overly technical and difficult to understand.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - The book provides a thorough and interdisciplinary overview of the concept of neural plasticity and its impact on the development of the cerebral cortex. Although it was published in 2002, the information is still relevant and has contributed significantly to the understanding of the brain's plasticity.



Jacini, W.F., Cannonieri, G.C., Fernandes, P.T., Bonilha, L., Cendes, F. and Li, L.M., 2009. Can exercise shape your brain? Cortical differences associated with judo practice. Journal of science and Medicine in Sport, 12(6), pp.688-690.


OVERVIEW: This study investigates the impact of judo practice on brain structure. The researchers compared brain scans of judo athletes and non-athletes and found differences in the thickness and volume of certain brain regions.

STRENGTHS: The study provides evidence for the impact of physical exercise on brain structure, specifically in the context of judo practice. The study used a control group to compare brain scans, which strengthens the validity of the findings. The study has practical implications for individuals looking to improve cognitive function through exercise.

LIMITATIONS: The study has a small sample size, limiting the generalisability of the findings. The study is correlational and cannot determine causation. The study only focuses on one type of physical activity, and the findings may not apply to other forms of exercise.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - While the study provides evidence for the impact of exercise on brain structure, the small sample size and correlational design limit the generalisability of the findings. However, the study contributes to the growing body of research exploring the relationship between physical exercise and brain health.



Kim, J.H., Park, J.W. and Tae, W.S., 2022. Cerebral cortex changes in basketball players. Journal of Korean MedicalScience, 37(11).


OVERVIEW: This study aimed to investigate the structural changes in the cerebral cortex of basketball players compared to non-athletes. The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the cortical thickness, surface area, and volume of various regions of the brain in both groups.

STRENGTHS: The study used a large sample size of both basketball players and non-athletes, which increases the statistical power of the results. The MRI analysis was conducted in a blinded manner, reducing the possibility of biased results. The study found that basketball players had increased cortical thickness in the left hemisphere compared to non-athletes.

LIMITATIONS: The study only investigated male participants, limiting the generalisability of the findings to female basketball players. The study did not investigate the potential confounding factors such as age, sex, and lifestyle factors that may influence cortical changes in the brain. The cross-sectional design of the study limits the ability to infer causality, as it is not possible to determine whether the cortical thickness differences were present before or after basketball practice.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the study had a large sample size and used advanced MRI analysis techniques, the cross-sectional design and lack of control for potential confounding variables limit the strength of the findings.



SHL Kim, D., Y Kim, J. and Han, Y., 2012. Curcuminoids in neurodegenerative diseases. Recent Patents on CNS Drug Discovery (Discontinued), 7(3), pp.184-204.


OVERVIEW: This review article discusses the potential therapeutic effects of curcuminoids, a group of compounds found in the spice turmeric, on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on the topic, summarizing the potential mechanisms of action and therapeutic effects of curcuminoids in neurodegenerative diseases. The review also discusses the potential limitations and challenges associated with using curcuminoids as a treatment option, providing a balanced perspective.

LIMITATIONS: The review article is limited by its focus on patents related to the use of curcuminoids as a treatment option for neurodegenerative diseases. This may lead to a biased selection of studies included in the review. Additionally, the review does not provide a critical analysis of the quality of the studies included.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - While the review provides a comprehensive overview of the literature on curcuminoids and neurodegenerative diseases, the focus on patents and lack of critical analysis limit the scientific power of the article.



Macey, P.M., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Prasad, J.P., Ma, R.A., Kumar, R., Philby, M.F. and Gozal, D., 2018. Altered regional brain cortical thickness in pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Frontiers in Neurology, 9, p.4.


OVERVIEW: This study examined changes in the thickness of the brain cortex in children with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) compared to healthy controls. The authors found that children with OSA had significantly thinner cortex in several brain regions involved in cognitive and motor functions.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established method of measuring cortical thickness, and the sample size was relatively large for this type of study. The results have important implications for understanding the impact of OSA on brain development in children.

LIMITATIONS: The study did not control for potential confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, medication use, or comorbid conditions. Additionally, the study was cross-sectional and did not examine changes in cortical thickness over time.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study used a rigorous method of measuring cortical thickness, and the results were statistically significant. However, the limitations of the study suggest that further research is needed to confirm these findings and rule out alternative explanations.



Mackiewicz, M., Shockley, K.R., Romer, M.A., Galante, R.J., Zimmerman, J.E., Naidoo, N., Baldwin, D.A., Jensen, S.T., Churchill, G.A. and Pack, A.I., 2007. Macromolecule biosynthesis: a key function of sleep. Physiological Genomics, 31(3), pp.441-457.


OVERVIEW: This study examined the role of sleep in regulating the biosynthesis of macromolecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, in the brain. The authors found that during sleep, there is a significant increase in the expression of genes involved in macromolecule biosynthesis, suggesting that sleep is essential for these processes.

STRENGTHS: The study used a comprehensive approach to examining gene expression and macromolecule biosynthesis, including microarray analysis and measurements of protein synthesis. The results have important implications for understanding the cellular and molecular functions of sleep.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted in mice, so it is unclear how applicable the findings are to humans. Additionally, the study did not examine the effects of sleep deprivation or disrupted sleep on macromolecule biosynthesis.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study used rigorous methods to examine gene expression and macromolecule biosynthesis, and the results were statistically significant. However, the limitations of the study suggest that further research is needed to confirm these findings and examine their relevance to humans.



McColgan, P., Joubert, J., Tabrizi, S.J. and Rees, G., 2020. The human motor cortex microcircuit: insights for neurodegenerative disease. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 21(8), pp.401-415.


OVERVIEW: This article provides a comprehensive overview of the human motor cortex microcircuit and its functional roles in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. The authors review current research on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie motor circuitry, including its interactions with other brain regions, and how these processes can be disrupted in conditions such as Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

STRENGTHS: The article provides a thorough review of the current understanding of motor cortex microcircuitry and its relationship to neurodegenerative diseases. The authors present numerous studies and experimental techniques that have been used to study this system, as well as potential therapeutic strategies for treating motor dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases.

LIMITATIONS: The article is focused primarily on preclinical research and does not discuss the translation of this knowledge to clinical practice. In addition, some of the topics covered may be difficult for people without prior knowledge of neuroscience to understand.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article provides a detailed overview of the current state of research in motor cortex microcircuitry and neurodegenerative disease, but it is limited in its ability to translate this knowledge to clinical practice.



Miyajima, M., Nakajima, M., Motoi, Y., Moriya, M., Sugano, H., Ogino, I., Nakamura, E., Tada, N., Kunichika, M. and Arai, H., 2013. Leucine-rich α2-glycoprotein is a novel biomarker of neurodegenerative disease in human cerebrospinal fluid and causes neurodegeneration in mouse cerebral cortex. PLoS One, 8(9), p.e74453.


OVERVIEW: The article explores the potential use of leucine-rich α2-glycoprotein (LRG) as a biomarker for neurodegenerative diseases. The authors investigate LRG levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and identify changes in LRG expression that correlate with the progression of these conditions. Additionally, they investigate the effects of LRG on neuronal survival in mouse cerebral cortex.

STRENGTHS: The article presents a unique perspective on the potential use of LRG as a biomarker for neurodegenerative diseases, which may have important implications for early diagnosis and treatment. The authors use a variety of techniques, including immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, to investigate the expression and function of LRG in the context of neurodegeneration.

LIMITATIONS: The study is limited by its small sample size and the fact that it focuses on a single biomarker. Further research is needed to validate these findings and investigate the potential of LRG in clinical practice.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - The article presents interesting findings regarding LRG as a potential biomarker for neurodegenerative diseases, but the limited sample size and lack of clinical validation limit its overall scientific power.



Niedzielska, E., Smaga, I., Gawlik, M., Moniczewski, A., Stankowicz, P., Pera, J. and Filip, M., 2016. Oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases. Molecular Neurobiology, 53, pp.4094-4125.


OVERVIEW: The review article explores the role of oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease. The authors discuss the molecular mechanisms underlying oxidative stress, such as mitochondrial dysfunction and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the potential therapeutic strategies to reduce oxidative damage.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the current knowledge on oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases, including the cellular and molecular pathways involved. The authors also discuss the potential therapeutic strategies, such as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory drugs, to reduce oxidative damage in these diseases.

LIMITATIONS: The article primarily focuses on the molecular mechanisms of oxidative stress and the potential therapeutic strategies and does not provide a detailed discussion of the clinical implications of oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, the authors do not extensively explore the limitations of the current therapeutic strategies.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: STRONG - It summarises the current knowledge on the role of oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases, including the molecular mechanisms involved and potential therapeutic strategies. However, the article could benefit from a more detailed exploration of the clinical implications of oxidative stress in these diseases.



Pavlov, P.I., 2010. Conditioned reflexes: an investigation of the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex. Annals of Neurosciences, 17(3), p.136.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex during conditioned reflexes. Pavlov conducted experiments on dogs to investigate how the cerebral cortex responds to conditioned stimuli.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a detailed description of Pavlov's experiments and findings, including the role of the cerebral cortex in conditioned reflexes. The author also discusses the potential clinical implications of the study, such as the use of conditioned reflexes in neurorehabilitation.

LIMITATIONS: The article is based on Pavlov's experiments from over a century ago, and the methodology used may not be applicable to modern neuroscience research. Moreover, the article primarily focuses on the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex during conditioned reflexes and does not provide an extensive discussion of the potential clinical applications.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - It presents the findings from Pavlov's experiments on the physiological activity of the cerebral cortex during conditioned reflexes. However, the article's relevance to current neuroscience research may be limited due to the outdated methodology used.



Peters, A. and Morrison, J.H. eds., 2012. Cerebral cortex: neurodegenerative and age-related changes in structure and function of cerebral cortex (Vol. 14). Springer Science & Business Media.


OVERVIEW: This book provides an overview of the changes that occur in the structure and function of the cerebral cortex during aging and in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington's disease. It presents the latest research in the field of neurodegeneration, including imaging studies and studies of cellular and molecular changes in the brain.

STRENGTHS: The book covers a broad range of topics related to neurodegenerative diseases and aging, including both human and animal studies. It provides an in-depth understanding of the structural and functional changes that occur in the brain during these conditions.

LIMITATIONS: Since this is a compilation of chapters written by various authors, the quality of the content may vary. The book may be too technical for individuals without a background in neuroscience.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The book covers a broad range of topics and includes recent research in the field of neurodegeneration. However, since the book is a compilation of chapters by different authors, the quality of the content may vary.



Prado, E.L. and Dewey, K.G., 2014. Nutrition and brain development in early life. Nutrition Reviews, 72(4), pp.267-284.


OVERVIEW: This article reviews the role of nutrition in brain development during early life, including foetal and infant brain development. It covers the importance of key nutrients such as protein, fat, and micronutrients in supporting healthy brain development.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the current literature on the role of nutrition in brain development during early life. It covers both human and animal studies and includes information on the importance of specific nutrients.

LIMITATIONS: The article does not cover the role of nutrition in brain development beyond early life. It also does not cover the impact of nutrition on specific neurodevelopmental disorders.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article provides a comprehensive review of the current literature on nutrition and brain development during early life. However, it is limited in scope to early life and does not cover the impact of nutrition on specific neurodevelopmental disorders.



Przedborski, S., Vila, M. and Jackson-Lewis, V., 2003. Series Introduction: Neurodegeneration: What is it and where are we? The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111(1), pp.3-10.


OVERVIEW: This article serves as an introduction to a series of papers that explore various aspects of neurodegeneration. The authors provide an overview of what neurodegeneration is, the various mechanisms that contribute to it, and the importance of understanding this process to develop better treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a clear and concise overview of neurodegeneration and sets the stage for the series of papers that follow. It highlights the need for further research in this area and emphasises the significant impact neurodegenerative diseases have on society.

LIMITATIONS: As an introduction, this article only provides a brief overview of the topic and does not delve into specific mechanisms or treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, it may not be as useful for readers seeking more in-depth information on the topic.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While this article serves as a useful introduction to the topic, it does not provide new research findings or detailed analysis of existing research.



Rabinowicz, T., Petetot, J.M.C., Gartside, P.S., Sheyn, D., Sheyn, T. and de Courten-Myers, G.M., 2002. Structure of the cerebral cortex in men and women. Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology, 61(1), pp.46-57.


OVERVIEW: This study aims to investigate the differences in the structure of the cerebral cortex between men and women. The cerebral cortex is the outer layer of the brain and is responsible for many important functions such as memory, attention, and consciousness.

STRENGTHS: The study is well-designed and uses advanced imaging techniques to analyse the structure of the cerebral cortex in both men and women. The authors also discuss the potential implications of their findings on the different cognitive abilities and susceptibilities to neurological diseases between the sexes.

LIMITATIONS: The study only focuses on a small sample size, which may not be representative of the larger population. Additionally, while the study finds differences in the structure of the cerebral cortex between men and women, it does not investigate the underlying causes of these differences.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - While the study has limitations in terms of sample size and causality, it provides important insights into the structural differences between the brains of men and women, which could have implications for neurological disorders and cognitive abilities.



Salat, D.H., Buckner, R.L., Snyder, A.Z., Greve, D.N., Desikan, R.S., Busa, E., Morris, J.C., Dale, A.M. and Fischl, B., 2004. Thinning of the cerebral cortex in aging. Cerebral Cortex, 14(7), pp.721-730.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates changes in the thickness of the cerebral cortex in relation to aging. The study utilized MRI scans of the brains of young and elderly adults to measure cortical thickness in different regions of the brain. The authors found a significant thinning of the cortex in elderly individuals, particularly in areas related to memory and attention.

STRENGTHS: The study had a large sample size, including 25 young and 24 elderly participants. The authors used advanced MRI techniques to accurately measure cortical thickness in different regions of the brain. The findings of the study are important as they provide insight into the normal changes that occur in the aging brain.

LIMITATIONS: The study only investigated a small number of brain regions, limiting the generalisability of the findings to other regions. Additionally, the study did not investigate other factors that could influence cortical thickness, such as environmental factors or disease.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study has a moderate scientific power as it has a relatively small sample size and only investigates a small number of brain regions. However, the use of advanced MRI techniques to accurately measure cortical thickness strengthens the study.



Savic, I., 2015. Structural changes of the brain in relation to occupational stress. Cerebral Cortex, 25(6), pp.1554-1564.


OVERVIEW: The article investigates structural changes in the brain in relation to occupational stress. The study utilised MRI scans of the brains of individuals in high-stress jobs to measure brain volume in different regions of the brain. The authors found a significant reduction in the volume of certain brain regions, particularly in those related to emotional regulation and cognitive control.

STRENGTHS: The study had a large sample size of 123 participants, including both men and women. The use of MRI scans allowed for accurate measurements of brain volume in different regions of the brain. The study provides insight into the negative effects of chronic stress on the brain.

LIMITATIONS: The study only investigated the effects of occupational stress and did not investigate other forms of stress. Additionally, the study did not investigate the effects of stress reduction interventions or other factors that could mitigate the negative effects of stress on the brain.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study has a moderate to strong scientific power due to its large sample size and the use of MRI scans to measure brain volume. However, the study is limited by its focus on occupational stress and its failure to investigate other forms of stress and interventions to mitigate the negative effects of stress on the brain.



Shipp, S., 2007. Structure and function of the cerebral cortex. Current Biology, 17(12), pp.R443-R449.


OVERVIEW: This article provides an overview of the structural and functional organisation of the cerebral cortex. The article describes how the cerebral cortex is divided into different regions based on the types of neurons present and how these regions are connected to each other to form functional networks.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a detailed overview of the structural and functional organisation of the cerebral cortex, making it a useful resource for understanding this complex brain region. The article is well-referenced, providing readers with a comprehensive list of resources for further reading.

LIMITATIONS: The article is relatively brief and may not provide enough detail for readers who are looking for an in-depth understanding of the cerebral cortex. Additionally, some of the concepts discussed in the article may be difficult for readers who are not familiar with neuroscience.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the article provides a good overview of the structure and function of the cerebral cortex, it is limited in scope and does not provide new data or experimental results. As a review article, it is useful for synthesising and summarising existing knowledge on the topic.



Shughrue, P.J. and Merchenthaler, I., 2000. Estrogen is more than just a “sex hormone”: novel sites for estrogen action in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 21(1), pp.95-101.


OVERVIEW: This article explores the effects of oestrogen on the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, two regions of the brain that are important for learning and memory.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a detailed description of the various ways that oestrogen affects the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. It is well-referenced and provides readers with a comprehensive list of resources for further reading.

LIMITATIONS: The article is relatively brief and may not provide enough detail for readers who are looking for an in-depth understanding of the effects of oestrogen on the brain. Additionally, the article does not provide new experimental data.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the article provides a good overview of the effects of oestrogen on the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, it is limited in scope and does not provide new experimental data. As a review article, it is useful for synthesising and summarising existing knowledge on the topic.



Sporns, O. and Zwi, J.D., 2004. The small world of the cerebral cortex. Neuroinformatics, 2, pp.145-162.


OVERVIEW: In this article, the authors discuss the concept of the "small-world" network as it applies to the structure and function of the cerebral cortex. They explain how the small-world network is characterised by both high clustering and short path lengths, and how this structure is optimized for efficient communication between different brain regions.

STRENGTHS: This article presents a clear and concise overview of the concept of small-world networks and their relevance to the organisation of the cerebral cortex. The authors use visual aids to help explain the complex concepts, which can be helpful for readers who are not familiar with the terminology. Additionally, the authors provide examples of how small-world networks have been observed in the brain, which can be useful for readers who are interested in the practical applications of this theory.

LIMITATIONS: One potential limitation of this article is that it does not go into great detail about the specific mechanisms that underlie the formation and maintenance of small-world networks in the brain. Additionally, while the authors mention the potential clinical applications of this theory, they do not go into great detail about how this theory might be applied in practice.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While this article provides a clear and concise overview of the concept of small-world networks and their relevance to the organisation of the cerebral cortex, it does not provide a great deal of new information or experimental evidence to support the theory.



Sporns, O., Tononi, G. and Edelman, G.M., 2002. Theoretical neuroanatomy and the connectivity of the cerebral cortex. Behavioural Brain Research, 135(1-2), pp.69-74.


OVERVIEW: In this article, the authors propose a theoretical framework for understanding the connectivity of the cerebral cortex. They argue that the organisation of the cortex can be understood in terms of the clustering and segregation of neural connections, and they provide examples of how this theory can be applied to different regions of the cortex.

STRENGTHS: This article presents a detailed and comprehensive overview of the theoretical framework proposed by the authors. The authors provide a clear and concise explanation of the terminology and concepts used in their theory, which can be helpful for readers who are not familiar with the field. Additionally, the authors provide examples of how their theory can be applied to different regions of the cortex, which can be useful for readers who are interested in the practical applications of this theory.

LIMITATIONS: One potential limitation of this article is that it is highly theoretical in nature and does not provide a great deal of experimental evidence to support the theory. Additionally, the authors focus primarily on the organisation of the cortex and do not discuss how this theory might be applied to other parts of the brain.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: LOW to MODERATE - While this article presents a comprehensive theoretical framework for understanding the connectivity of the cerebral cortex, it does not provide a great deal of experimental evidence to support the theory. Additionally, the highly theoretical nature of the article may make it difficult for readers who are not familiar with the field to fully understand the concepts presented.



Steriade, M., 2003. The corticothalamic system in sleep. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark, 8(4), pp.878-899.


OVERVIEW: This article explores the relationship between the cerebral cortex and the thalamus during sleep. The author discusses how the corticothalamic system plays a crucial role in regulating the brain activity during sleep and the importance of this system in the generation of sleep waves. The author also describes how the corticothalamic system may be disrupted in some neurological disorders, leading to abnormal sleep patterns.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive overview of the corticothalamic system and its role in sleep regulation. The author uses various studies to support their arguments, making the article well-researched and informative. The author also provides clear explanations and examples to help the reader understand the concepts presented.

LIMITATIONS: The article is quite technical and may be challenging to fully understand without prior knowledge of neuroscience. The author also focuses primarily on animal studies, which may not be directly applicable to human sleep patterns.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The author's use of numerous studies to support their arguments and the comprehensive nature of the article make it a well-informed piece. However, the limitations mentioned above decrease the strength of the article's scientific power for beginner neuroscience students.



Talukdar, T., Nikolaidis, A., Zwilling, C.E., Paul, E.J., Hillman, C.H., Cohen, N.J., Kramer, A.F. and Barbey, A.K., 2018. Aerobic fitness explains individual differences in the functional brain connectome of healthy young adults. Cerebral Cortex, 28(10), pp.3600-3609.


OVERVIEW: This article explores the relationship between aerobic fitness and the functional brain connectome in healthy young adults. The authors investigate how individual differences in fitness levels may influence the functional organisation of the brain.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a clear and concise overview of the functional brain connectome and how aerobic fitness may impact its organisation. The authors use fMRI data to support their arguments and provide visual representations of their findings to help the reader understand the data. The article's focus on a practical and relevant topic, such as exercise and brain health, also makes it engaging for the reader.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of this article is the small sample size used in the study, which may not be representative of the general population. Additionally, the authors primarily focused on aerobic fitness, neglecting the potential influence of other variables, such as diet and sleep.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The authors' use of fMRI data to support their findings and the article's relevance to real-life applications make it a valuable piece of research. However, the limitations mentioned above decrease the strength of the article's scientific power.



Uauy, R. and Dangour, A.D., 2006. Nutrition in brain development and aging: role of essential fatty acids. Nutrition Reviews, 64(suppl_2), pp.S24-S33.


OVERVIEW: This article reviews the role of essential fatty acids in brain development and aging, specifically omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The authors discuss the importance of these fatty acids for proper brain structure and function, and their potential implications for preventing cognitive decline.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on essential fatty acids and brain health, making it a useful resource for anyone interested in the topic. The authors provide detailed information on the mechanisms through which these fatty acids influence brain function, as well as the specific cognitive and behavioural outcomes that have been associated with their intake.

LIMITATIONS: The article does not provide a detailed discussion of the potential risks associated with consuming high levels of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids, such as increased risk of bleeding or altered immune function. Additionally, while the authors discuss the potential benefits of consuming these fatty acids in the context of cognitive decline, they do not provide any concrete dose related recommendations.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article draws on a large body of scientific literature to make its conclusions, but it does not provide any new data or experimental results. Additionally, the authors do not provide any specific recommendations for how to translate their findings into practice.



Urakami, Y., 2008. Relationships between sleep spindles and activities of cerebral cortex as determined by simultaneous EEG and MEG recording. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 25(1), pp.13-24.


OVERVIEW: This article discusses the relationship between sleep spindles, a specific pattern of brain activity that occurs during non-REM sleep, and the activity of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain responsible for many higher cognitive functions. The author describes several studies in which simultaneous EEG and MEG recording were used to investigate this relationship.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a detailed explanation of the methods used to investigate the relationship between sleep spindles and cortical activity, making it a useful resource for anyone interested in the neurophysiology of sleep. The author also discusses the potential implications of these findings for our understanding of how the brain processes information during sleep.

LIMITATIONS: The article focuses exclusively on the relationship between sleep spindles and cortical activity and does not discuss other important aspects of sleep physiology, such as the role of REM sleep or the impact of sleep on overall health. Additionally, while the author provides some information on the potential clinical applications of this research, he does not provide any concrete recommendations for how to translate these findings into practice.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The article draws on a number of studies to make its conclusions, but it does not provide any new data or experimental results. Additionally, the author does not provide any specific recommendations for how to translate his findings into practice.



Valkenborghs, S.R., Noetel, M., Hillman, C.H., Nilsson, M., Smith, J.J., Ortega, F.B. and Lubans, D.R., 2019. The impact of physical activity on brain structure and function in youth: a systematic review. Pediatrics, 144(4).


OVERVIEW: The article discusses the relationship between physical activity and brain development and function in children and adolescents. The authors review the existing literature on this topic to identify the effects of physical activity on brain structure and function.

STRENGTHS: The article presents a comprehensive review of the existing literature on the topic, including both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. The authors used strict inclusion and exclusion criteria to ensure the quality of the studies included in the review. The findings suggest that physical activity has a positive impact on brain structure and function in youth, including increased brain volume, improved cognitive function, and better academic performance.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the article is the potential for publication bias, as only studies published in English were included in the review. Additionally, most of the studies included in the review focused on aerobic exercise and did not examine the effects of other types of physical activity.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The review is based on a comprehensive analysis of the existing literature, but the limitations of the included studies and the potential for publication bias suggest that further research is needed to confirm the findings.



Wong, T.P., 2002. Aging of the cerebral cortex. McGill Journal of Medicine, 6(2).


OVERVIEW: The article discusses the changes that occur in the cerebral cortex as a result of aging. The author provides an overview of the structural and functional changes that occur in the cortex with age, as well as the factors that contribute to these changes.

STRENGTHS: The article provides a thorough overview of the changes that occur in the cerebral cortex with aging, including changes in cortical thickness, neuronal density, and synaptic function. The author also discusses the role of environmental factors such as physical activity and social engagement in slowing down the aging process.

LIMITATIONS: One limitation of the article is that it focuses mainly on structural changes in the cortex and does not provide much information on functional changes. Additionally, the article is over 20 years old and some of the information may be outdated.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - While the article provides a thorough overview of the changes that occur in the cerebral cortex with aging, the lack of focus on functional changes and the age of the article suggest that further research is needed to confirm and update the findings.



Zang, Q., Wang, S., Qi, Y., Zhang, L., Huang, C., Xiu, Y., Zhou, C., Luo, Y., Jia, G., Li, S. and Zhang, Y., 2023. Running exercise improves spatial learning and memory ability and enhances angiogenesis in the cerebral cortex via endogenous nitric oxide. Behavioural Brain Research, 439, p.114243.


OVERVIEW: This study investigated the effects of running exercise on spatial learning and memory ability, angiogenesis, and nitric oxide production in the cerebral cortex of mice. The researchers found that running exercise significantly improved spatial learning and memory ability in the mice, while also enhancing angiogenesis and increasing the levels of endogenous nitric oxide in the cerebral cortex.

STRENGTHS: The study was well-designed and included both behavioural and biological measures to investigate the effects of running exercise on brain function. The researchers used a randomised controlled trial design, which is considered the gold standard in scientific research, to ensure that the effects of running exercise were not due to chance. They also used multiple measures of brain function, including behavioural tests and biological markers, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effects of exercise on the brain.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted in mice, so it is unclear whether the findings can be generalised to humans. The study also did not investigate the long-term effects of exercise on brain function, so it is unclear whether the benefits observed in the short-term would be sustained over time.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE to STRONG - The study was well-designed and included both behavioural and biological measures to investigate the effects of running exercise on brain function. However, the fact that the study was conducted in mice limits its generalisability to humans, and the lack of long-term follow-up data limits the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn.



Żebrowska, E., Chabowski, A., Zalewska, A. and Maciejczyk, M., 2020. High-sugar diet disrupts hypothalamic but not cerebral cortex redox homeostasis. Nutrients, 12(10), p.3181.


OVERVIEW: This study investigated the effects of a high-sugar diet on redox homeostasis in the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex of rats. The researchers found that the high-sugar diet disrupted redox homeostasis in the hypothalamus but not in the cerebral cortex.

STRENGTHS: The study used a well-established animal model to investigate the effects of a high-sugar diet on brain function. The researchers used multiple measures of redox homeostasis to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effects of the high-sugar diet on the hypothalamus and cerebral cortex.

LIMITATIONS: The study was conducted in rats, so it is unclear whether the findings can be generalised to humans. The study also did not investigate the effects of the high-sugar diet on other aspects of brain function, such as cognition or behaviour.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study used a well-established animal model and multiple measures of redox homeostasis to investigate the effects of a high-sugar diet on brain function. However, the fact that the study was conducted in rats limits its generalisability to humans, and the lack of investigation into other aspects of brain function limits the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn.



Żebrowska, E., Maciejczyk, M., Żendzian-Piotrowska, M., Zalewska, A. and Chabowski, A., 2019. High protein diet induces oxidative stress in rat cerebral cortex and hypothalamus. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20(7), p.1547.


OVERVIEW: This article investigates the effects of a high protein diet on oxidative stress in the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus of rats. The authors suggest that the high protein diet increases oxidative stress in these regions of the brain.

STRENGTHS: The study was conducted on animals which allows for strict control of the experiment and reduces any potential ethical concerns. The authors used appropriate and reliable methods to measure the levels of oxidative stress, including the determination of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation. The study results were statistically significant, indicating that the high protein diet indeed increased oxidative stress in the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus of the rats.

LIMITATIONS: This study was conducted only on rats, so it is unclear whether the findings can be applied to humans. The study only measured the levels of oxidative stress markers and did not assess any other potential effects of a high protein diet on the brain, such as changes in cognitive function or behaviour. The study did not consider the type or source of protein in the diet, which could have different effects on oxidative stress.

SCIENTIFIC POWER: MODERATE - The study was well-designed and executed, using appropriate and reliable methods. However, the study only measured oxidative stress markers and was conducted only on rats, which limits its generalisability to humans. Therefore, further studies are needed to determine the effects of high protein diets on the human brain and to understand the underlying mechanisms.


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