%A Dr. Bjorn Merker %T Cortex, countercurrent context, and dimensional integration of lifetime memory %X The correlation between relative neocortex size and longevity in mammals encourages a search for a cortical function specifically related to the life-span. A candidate in the domain of permanent and cumulative memory storage is proposed and explored in relation to basic aspects of cortical organization. The pattern of cortico-cortical connectivity between functionally specialized areas and the laminar organization of that connectivity converges on a globally coherent representational space in which contextual embedding of information emerges as an obligatory feature of cortical function. This brings a powerful mode of inductive knowledge within reach of mammalian adaptations, a mode which combines item specificity with classificatory generality. Its neural implementation is proposed to depend on an obligatory interaction between the oppositely directed feedforward and feedback currents of cortical activity, in countercurrent fashion. Direct interaction of the two streams along their cortex-wide local interface supports a scheme of "contextual capture" for information storage responsible for the lifelong cumulative growth of a uniquely cortical form of memory termed "personal history." This approach to cortical function helps elucidate key features of cortical organization as well as cognitive aspects of mammalian life history strategies. %D 2004 %K Context, corticocortical connections, countercurrent, hippocampus, latent semantic analysis, life history strategies, neocortex. %L cogprints6456