Tight Coupling between Morphological Features of the Central Sulcus and Somatomotor Body Representations: A Combined Anatomical and Functional MRI Study

Cereb Cortex. 2020 Mar 14;30(3):1843-1854. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhz208.


Pioneering research established the concept of somatotopic organization of the primary motor and somatosensory cortex along the central sulcus as depicted in the widely known schematic illustration (the "homunculus") by Penfield and colleagues. With the exception of the hand, however, a precise relationship between morphological features of the central sulcus and the representation of various parts of the body has not been addressed. To investigate whether such relations between anatomical features and functional body representations exist, we first examined central sulcus morphology in detail and then conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment to establish somatomotor representations. This study established that the central sulcus is composed of five distinct sulcal segments and demonstrated that each segment relates systematically to the sensorimotor representation of distinct parts of the body. Thus, local morphology predicts the localization of body representations with precision, raising fundamental questions regarding functional and morphological differentiation.

Keywords: central sulcus; fMRI; homunculus; neuroanatomy; sulcal morphology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Image
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*

Grant support