Cortex (CORTEX )

Publisher: Elsevier


Cortex is an international journal devoted to the study of the inter-relations of the nervous system and behavior, particularly as these are reflected in the effects of brain lesions on cognitive functions. It was founded in 1964. Tra le riviste italiane con maggior impact factor, raccoglie selezionati lavori di ricerca sulle attività nervose superiori. Si rivolge essenzialmente a un pubblico di neurologi e psicologi, ma tratta argomenti di pertinenza anche per gli psichiatri e per quanti sono interessati ad analizzare il comportamento umano e le sue alterazioni in termini di strutture e meccanismi anatomo-fisiologici. Dal 2001 il comitato scientifico, rinnovato e potenziato, è diretto dall'Editor in Chief dott. Sergio Della Sala. In occasioni del 40° anniversario sono stati rinnovati formato e grafica della rivista ed è stato accresciuto il sito web, che mette a disposizione l'archivio e, per gli abbonati, l'ultimo numero e gli articoli che saranno pubblicati nei prossimi numeri.

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  • Website
    Cortex website
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    Periodical, Internet resource
  • Document type
    Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

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  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
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    • Voluntary deposit by author of pre-print allowed on Institutions open scholarly website and pre-print servers
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    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
    • NIH Authors articles will be submitted to PMC after 12 months
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    • Pre-print can not be deposited for The Lancet
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    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Symmetry is an organizational principle that is ubiquitous throughout the visual world. However, this property can also be detected through non-visual modalities such as touch. The role of prior visual experience on detecting tactile patterns containing symmetry remains unclear. We compared the behavioral performance of early blind and sighted (blindfolded) controls on a tactile symmetry detection task. The tactile patterns used were similar in design and complexity as in previous visual perceptual studies. The neural correlates associated with this behavioral task were identified with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In line with growing evidence demonstrating enhanced tactile processing abilities in the blind, we found that early blind individuals showed significantly superior performance in detecting tactile symmetric patterns compared to sighted controls. Furthermore, comparing patterns of activation between these two groups identified common areas of activation (e.g. superior parietal cortex) but key differences also emerged. In particular, tactile symmetry detection in the early blind was also associated with activation that included peri-calcarine cortex, lateral occipital (LO), and middle temporal (MT) cortex, as well as inferior temporal and fusiform cortex. These results contribute to the growing evidence supporting superior behavioral abilities in the blind, and the neural correlates associated with crossmodal neuroplasticity following visual deprivation.
    Cortex 01/2015; 63:104–117.
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    ABSTRACT: Semantic cognition is underpinned by regions involved in representing conceptual knowledge and executive control areas that provide regulation of this information according to current task requirements. Using distortion-corrected fMRI, we investigated the contributions of these two systems to abstract and concrete word comprehension. We contrasted semantic decisions made either with coherent contextual support, which encouraged retrieval of a rich conceptual representation, or with irrelevant contextual information, which instead maximised demands on control processes. Inferior prefrontal cortex was activated more when decisions were made in the presence of irrelevant context, suggesting that this region is crucial for the semantic control functions required to select appropriate aspects of meaning in the face of competing information. It also exhibited greater activation for abstract words, which reflects the fact that abstract words tend to have variable, context-dependent meanings that place higher demands on control processes. In contrast, anterior temporal regions were most active when decisions were made with the benefit of a coherent context, suggesting a representational role. There was a graded shift in concreteness effects in this region, with dorsolateral areas particularly active for abstract words and ventromedial areas preferentially activated by concrete words. This supports the idea that concrete concepts are closely associated with visual experience and abstract concepts with auditory-verbal information; and that sub-regions of the ATL display graded specialisation for these two types of knowledge. Between these two extremes, we identified significant activations for both word types in ventrolateral ATL. This area is known to be involved in representing knowledge for concrete concepts; here we established that it is also activated by abstract concepts. These results converge with data from rTMS and neuropsychological investigations in demonstrating that representational content and task demands influence recruitment of different areas in the semantic network.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Accumulating evidence suggests that mental simulation of the future and past relies on common processes supported by the hippocampus. However, it is currently unknown whether the hippocampus also supports the ability to share these mental simulations with others. Recently, it has been proposed that language and language-related structures in the brain are particularly important for communicating information not tied to the immediate environment, and indeed specifically evolved so that humans could share their mental time travels into the future and the past with others. The current study investigated whether processes supported by the hippocampus are necessary for effectively communicating the contents of one’s mental simulations by examining the discourse of amnesic patients with medial temporal lobe damage. In Experiment 1 we tested whether patients can produce integrated discourse about future and past events by measuring lower-level discourse cohesion and higher-level discourse coherence. Striking reductions in both measures were observed in amnesic patients’ narratives about novel future events and experienced past events. To investigate whether these deficits simply reflected concurrent reductions in narrative content, in Experiment 2 we examined the status of discourse integration in patients’ verbal narratives about pictures, which contained an equivalent amount of narrative content as controls’. Discourse cohesion and coherence deficits were also present when patients generated narratives based on pictures, and these deficits did not depend on the presence of neural damage outside the hippocampus. Together, these results reveal a pervasive linguistic integration deficit in amnesia that is not limited to discourse about the past or the future and is not simply secondary to reductions in narrative content. More broadly, this study demonstrates that the hippocampus supports the integration of individual narrative elements into coherent and cohesive discourse when constructing complex verbal accounts, and plays a critical role in the effective communication of information to others.
    Cortex 09/2014;
  • Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Patients who have had a cerebral hemisphere surgically removed as adults can generate accurate leftward and rightward saccadic eye movements, a task classically thought to require two hemispheres each controlling contralateral saccades. Here, we asked whether one hemisphere can generate sequences of saccades, the success of which requires the use of corollary discharges. Using a double-step saccade paradigm, we tested two hemidecorticate subjects who, by definition, are contralesionally hemianopic. In experiment 1, two targets, T1 and T2, were flashed in their seeing hemifield and subjects had to look in the dark to T1, then T2. In experiment 2, only one target was flashed; before looking at it, the subject had first to saccade voluntarily elsewhere. Both subjects were able to complete the tasks, independent of first and second saccade direction and whether the saccades were voluntarily or visually triggered. Both subjects displayed a strategy, typical in hemianopia, of making multiple-step saccades and placing, at overall movement-end, the recalled locations of T1 and T2 on off-foveal locations in their seeing hemifield, in a retinal area typically spanning a 5-15° window, depending on the subject, trial type and target eccentricity. In summary, a single hemisphere monitored the amplitude and direction of the first multiple-step saccade sequence bilaterally, and combined this information with the recalled initial retinotopic location of T2 (no longer visible) to generate a correct target-directed second saccade sequence in the dark. Unexpectedly, our hemidecorticate subjects performed better on the double-step task than subjects with isolated unilateral parietal lesions, reported in the literature to have marked deficiencies in monitoring contralesional saccadic eye movements. Thus, plasticity-dependent mechanisms that lead to recovery of function after hemidecortication are different than those deployed after smaller lesions. This implies a reconsideration of the classical links between behavioural deficits and discrete cortical lesions.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Subthalamic nucleus (STN) deep brain stimulation in Parkinson's disease induces modifications in the recognition of emotion from voices (or emotional prosody). Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms are still only poorly understood, and the role of acoustic features in these deficits has yet to be elucidated. Our aim was to identify the influence of acoustic features on changes in emotional prosody recognition following STN stimulation in Parkinson's disease. To this end, we analysed the performances of patients on vocal emotion recognition in pre-versus post-operative groups, as well as of matched controls, entering the acoustic features of the stimuli into our statistical models. Analyses revealed that the post-operative biased ratings on the Fear scale when patients listened to happy stimuli were correlated with loudness, while the biased ratings on the Sadness scale when they listened to happiness were correlated with fundamental frequency (F0). Furthermore, disturbed ratings on the Happiness scale when the post-operative patients listened to sadness were found to be correlated with F0. These results suggest that inadequate use of acoustic features following subthalamic stimulation has a significant impact on emotional prosody recognition in patients with Parkinson's disease, affecting the extraction and integration of acoustic cues during emotion perception.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: A fundamental question in language development is how infants start to assign meaning to words. Here, using three EEG-based measures of brain activity, we establish that preverbal 11-month-old infants are sensitive to the non-arbitrary correspondences between language sounds and concepts, that is, to sound symbolism. In each trial, infant participants were presented with a visual stimulus (e.g., a round shape) followed by a novel spoken word that either sound-symbolically matched ("moma") or mismatched ("kipi") the shape. Amplitude increase in the gamma band showed perceptual integration of visual and auditory stimuli in the match condition within 300 milliseconds of word onset. Furthermore, phase synchronization between electrodes at around 400 milliseconds revealed intensified large-scale, left-hemispheric communication between brain regions in the mismatch condition as compared to the match condition, indicating heightened processing effort when integration was more demanding. Finally, event-related brain potentials showed an increased adult-like N400 response –an index of semantic integration difficulty– in the mismatch as compared to the match condition. Together, these findings suggest that 11-month-old infants spontaneously map auditory language onto visual experience by recruiting a cross-modal perceptual processing system and a nascent semantic network within the first year of life.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction There is growing evidence from neuro-computational studies that instrumental learning involves the dynamic interaction of a computationally rigid, low-level striatal and a more flexible, high-level prefrontal component. Methods To evaluate the role of the prefrontal cortex in instrumental learning, we applied anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) optimized for the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, by using realistic MR-derived finite element model-based electric field simulations. In a study with a double-blind, sham-controlled, repeated-measures design, sixteen male participants performed a probabilistic learning task while receiving anodal and sham tDCS in a counterbalanced order. Results Compared to sham tDCS, anodal tDCS significantly increased the amount of maladaptive shifting behavior after optimal outcomes during learning when reward probabilities were highly dissociable. Derived parameters of the Q-learning computational model further revealed a significantly increased model parameter that was sensitive to random action selection in the anodal compared to the sham tDCS session, whereas the learning rate parameter was not influenced significantly by tDCS. Conclusion These results congruently indicate that prefrontal tDCS during instrumental learning increased randomness of choice, possibly reflecting the influence of the cognitive prefrontal component.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction Although the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) is one of the most frequently reported areas of activation in functional imaging studies, the role of this brain region in cognition is still a matter of intense debate. Here we present a patient with a focal lesion of caudal pre-SMA who displays a selective deficit in updating a response plan to switch actions, but shows no impairment when required to withhold a response – stopping. Materials & Methods The patient and a control group underwent three tasks designed to measure different aspects of cognitive control and executive function. Results The pre-SMA patient displayed no impairment when responding in the face of distracting stimuli (Eriksen flanker paradigm), or when required to halt an on-going response (STOP task). However, a specific deficit was observed when she was required to rapidly switch between response plans (CHANGE task). Conclusions These findings suggest that the caudal pre-SMA may have a particularly important role in a network of brain regions required for rapidly updating and implementing response plans. The lack of any significant impairment on other measures of cognitive control suggests that this is not likely due to a global deficit in cognitive control. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of current theories of pre-SMA function.
    Cortex 09/2014;
  • Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Identifying sound sources is fundamental to developing a stable representation of the environment in the face of variable auditory information. The cortical processes underlying this ability have received little attention. In two fMRI experiments, we investigated passive adaptation to (Exp. 1) and explicit discrimination of (Exp. 2) source identities for different categories of auditory objects (voices, musical instruments, environmental sounds). All cortical effects of source identity were independent of high-level category information, and were accounted for by sound-to-sound differences in low-level structure (e.g., loudness). A conjunction analysis revealed that the left posterior middle frontal gyrus (pMFG) adapted to identity repetitions during both passive listening and active discrimination tasks. These results indicate that the comparison of sound source identities in a stream of auditory stimulation recruits the pMFG in a domain-general way, i.e., independent of the sound category, based on information contained in the low-level acoustical structure. pMFG recruitment during both passive listening and explicit identity comparison tasks also suggests its automatic engagement in sound source identity processing.
    Cortex 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Numerous studies examine the effect of a night’s sleep on memory consolidation, but few go beyond this short time-scale to test long-lasting effects of sleep on memory. We investigated long-term effects of sleep on typical memory tasks. During the hours following learning, participants slept or stayed awake. We compared recall performance between wake and sleep conditions after delays of up to 6 days. Performance develops in two distinct ways. Word pair, syllable, and motor sequence learning tasks benefit from sleep during the first day after encoding, when compared with daytime or nighttime wakefulness. However, performance in the wake conditions recovers after another night of sleep, so that we observe no lasting effect of sleep. Sleep deprivation before recall does not impair performance. Thus, fatigue cannot adequately explain the lack of long-term effects. We suggest that the hippocampus might serve as a buffer during the retention interval, and consolidation occurs during delayed sleep. In contrast, a non-hippocampal mirror-tracing task benefits significantly from sleep, even when tested after a 4-day delay including recovery sleep. This indicates a dissociation between two sleep-related consolidation mechanisms, which could rely on distinct neuronal processes.
    Cortex 08/2014;