While various neurodegenerative diseases affect cortical mass differently, finding an optimal and accurate method for measuring the thickness and surface area of cerebral cortex remains a challenging problem due to highly convoluted surface of the cortex. We therefore investigated cortical thickness in a sample of cadaveric specimens at the Discipline of Clinical Anatomy, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa to provide some clue as to possible variations in the parameters. Following ethical approval, 60 brain samples were uniformly sectioned (5 mm thickness) and eight slices taken from each brain across regions of interest (ROI) prepared and stained by Mulligan's technique. Thickness was measured at selected angles (0o, 45o, 90o, 135o and 180o) for both right and left cerebral hemispheres. Mulligan’s stain produced good cortical differentiation and clear images that enabled manual delineation of structures. Cortical thickness ranged from 3 to 5 millimeters across the ROI. Interestingly, there was rightward hemispheric asymmetry of cortical thickness of selective slices at suggested angles which is related to structurally and functionally important brain regions. Moreover, there was no significant correlation between the surface area of superficial cortex and the deep nuclei at the same level. The superficial cortex and deep nuclei are manifested independently in normal aging, neuropsychiatric or developmental disorders. Providing accurate morphometric evaluation of cortical thickness and area based on gross staining of the brain slices could provide qualitative data that may support the study of human cerebral cortex even in disease conditions.
KEY WORDS: Brain; Morphometrty; Mulligan stain; Gray matter.