The coordinate system in your head
Instead of dividing the brain into clearly defined areas, its organization may be better described in terms of a coordinate system, namely several graded axes.
Germany has one of the densest road networks in the world. Nevertheless, we mostly find our way around it. In the past, a car atlas was the main thing that helped; today, navigation systems and smartphones show us where to go. However, the network in our brain is much more complex. The total length of all nerve pathways in a person is ten times that of the German road network.
Representations modeled on traffic maps are not sufficient to depict the connections and landscapes of our most complicated organ. Nevertheless, neuroscientists have been trying to create a kind of brain atlas since the 19th century. Oskar Vogt (1870–1959), an influential neurologist of his time, made several demands on so-called cortical maps: Like schematic representations of the road network, they should enable quick orientation and at the same time illustrate the functions of different regions. In addition, with the help of such maps one would be able to reveal differences in the blueprint of different individuals and draw conclusions about the development of the brain …