Structure of the human sensorimotor system. I: Morphology and cytoarchitecture of the central sulcus

Cereb Cortex. Jan-Feb 1997;7(1):18-30. doi: 10.1093/cercor/7.1.18.


We have studied the morphology of the central sulcus and the cytoarchitecture of the primary sensorimotor cortex in 20 human brains obtained at autopsy. Although the surface appearance of the central sulcus varies greatly from brain to brain (and between hemispheres of individual brains), its deep structure is remarkably consistent. The fundus of the central sulcus is divided into medial and lateral limbs by a complex junction midway between the sagittal and Sylvian fissures. Based on functional imaging studies, this junction appears to be a structural hallmark of the sensorimotor representation of the distal upper extremity. We also identified and measured area 4 (primary motor cortex) and area 3 (primary somatic sensory cortex) in Nissl-stained sections cut orthogonal to the course of the central sulcus. Although the positions of the cytoarchitectonic boundaries in the paracentral lobule showed considerable interindividual variation, the locations of the borders of areas 4 and 3 along the course of the sulcus were similar among the 40 hemispheres examined. In addition to describing more thoroughly this portion of the human cerebral cortex, these observations provide a basis for evaluating lateral symmetry of the human primary sensorimotor cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology*