This is the part of the brain usually being referred to! Brain power is a nice catch phrase referring to the amazing ability to coordinate input and control to produce fluid action. These notable aspects of the brain's power are orchestrated by the association cortex.
In short, the association cortex are how human beings harness the brain’s ability to manage the body in ways that allow a person to live. It is the strings comprising the cloth of the basic functions often taken for granted:
o Understanding & using symbol systems (e.g. language)
o Shifting attention (i.e. sorting relevant stimuli for the given moment )
o Planning & deciding what to commit to memory
o Combining different functions (i.e. the ability to multitask)
The association cortex is also referred to as the association area and comprises the parts of the brain’s cortex involved in the deeper connections of both motor and sensory integration of information as it is processed. The association cortex is spread across the lobes of the brain with high plasticity. Plasticity refers to the capability to adapt as needed. So, then, the association cortex is different per individual, but everyone has 3 general association networks:
2. Inferior Temporal
3. Parietal-Temporal-Occipital areas
Just a jumble of anatomical terms, it would seem. But that is just it. Associating words with parts of the body discovered to discover more about it, work with it, repair it, and ultimately understand it is something we are capable of because of what has been labeled the “association cortex” of the brain.”
The decision to be interested or bored in this information also stems from the association cortex.
For example, two tiny areas of the association cortex help with that vary decision. Maybe the average person has heard of Broca’s area or Wernicke’s area in conversation nodding along but thought, “whatever that is.”
Well, Broca’s area is for processing how to use certain words strategically, specifically verbs with the goal of persuasion. Wernicke’s area attaches meaning and ultimately feeling to words. Two little spots on the association cortex do so much. Think about it: communicating with language, words, is how we connect, function, think…live. Well, aside from breathing, digesting, circulating, and all the other survival stuff the brain helps to control for basic life functions, anyway. But it is communication, sport, memory, and multitasking that landed humans on top of the totem pole in the grander scheme of living creatures.
If the meaning associated with these words has sparked the reader’s interest, likely research will not end with this short piece. Happy associating!
1. Broca’s area beneaththecover.com
2. The Physiology of the Senses: Transformations For Perception and Action (Lecture 5 - The Cerebral Association Cortex) Tutis Vilis www.physpharm.fmd.uwo.ca/undergrad/sensesweb/
3. The Association Cortex medinfo.ufl.edu