Practitioners of Behavioral Neurology & Neuropsychiatry should consider themselves privileged to have been assigned the uniquely challenging task of treating the most complex disorders of the most complex organ in the body. The facts and figures are quite daunting. The cerebral cortex alone contains 40 billion neurons crowded into 30 square feet of surface area. Each neuron makes thousands of contacts with other neurons. At these contact points, known as synapses, information flows from one neuron to another at a rate of approximately 100 times per second. The total number of neural contacts on the surface of the brain alone is 40 followed by 12 zeros, a number that is as large as the number of all the stars in our galaxy. This complexity is not devoid of order. A distinctive principle of brain function is the regional variation of specializations – different parts of the brain have different responsibilities. Some of these job descriptions defy common sense. What kind of engineering logic would have made memory for recent events, a faculty essential for all aspects of behavior, critically dependent on a tiny part of the temporal lobe known as the hippocampus? Why is language, a faculty that permeates all aspects of thought, critically dependent on only one hemisphere?
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