Revista argentina de neurocirugía
On-line version ISSN 1850-1532
FONTANA, Horacio. La memoria y el neurocirujano. Rev. argent. neurocir. [online]. 2010, vol.24, suppl.1, pp. S39-S77. ISSN 1850-1532.
At the beginning of the last century, subtle or net structural differences were founded in cortical areas, allowing the design of cortical maps that are employed until today and supported the assumption of functional differences. Little was known at that moment: Broca's and Wernicke's centers, the primary sensory and the motor areas. However, theorization began assuming "simple functions" for the centers and the higher were attributed to the association fascicles that could summate the participation of various centers to the task. Some people believed that for the superior realizations of mind, practically all areas of the cortex were involved, advancing the idea of a functional system of cortical organs, made explicit by Luria at the midcentury. At this moment, the concept of surface area as functional unit gave place to the vertical unit of the cortical module, endorsed by the columnar structure of the cortex, the predominant vertical connectivity and the embryologic development. The new methods to follow the fibers that connect different areas of the cortex allowed detailed studies of them up the 70's, determining the division of the cortex in areas by connectivity, that enlarged their number. As other cerebral functions, memory stores its traces in a distributed cortical space, in the format of facilitated circuits (engrams), that would involve the same areas activated during perception. Codification would mean a task of conscious association for semantics and spatial and specially, temporal contextualization for events. Consolidation of memories could mean a period of conscious or unconscious (reentry) repetition, performed by structures of the midline, diencephalon, hippocampus, amygdala and their connections, in successive conscious states (phasic). The retrieval could be performed by the highest zones in the perceptive hierarchy, that would allow the access to the engram with its associations. The functional images would confirm some of those assumptions. Terminology and thinking lines of philosophers and investigators coincide frequently, probably because the theory of cortical function is in an early phase of phenomenological interpretation.
Keywords : Human memory; Cerebral cortical function.