What is the Central Sulcus?
The central sulcus, also known as the fissure of Rolando, is a prominent landmark on the surface of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions. It is a deep groove that separates the frontal lobe from the parietal lobe, and it plays a crucial role in the functional organization of the brain by demarcating the primary motor cortex from the primary somatosensory cortex.
Anatomy of the Central Sulcus
The central sulcus is located near the middle of the brain’s lateral surface, running in an approximately anteroposterior direction. It starts close to the longitudinal fissure, which divides the two cerebral hemispheres, and extends toward the lateral fissure (Sylvian fissure), which separates the frontal and parietal lobes from the temporal lobe.
The precentral gyrus, located just anterior to the central sulcus, is the primary motor cortex, responsible for planning and executing voluntary movements. The postcentral gyrus, situated just posterior to the central sulcus, is the primary somatosensory cortex, responsible for processing sensory information from the body, such as touch, pressure, and pain.
Functions Associated with the Central Sulcus
The primary motor cortex, located in the precentral gyrus, plays a crucial role in generating neural signals that control the execution of voluntary movements. It contains a somatotopic representation of the body, with different regions dedicated to controlling specific muscle groups.
The primary somatosensory cortex, located in the postcentral gyrus, receives and processes sensory information from the body, allowing the brain to perceive and interpret various sensations such as touch, temperature, and pain. Like the primary motor cortex, it also features a somatotopic organization, with different regions corresponding to specific parts of the body.
Integration of Sensory and Motor Functions
The central sulcus serves as a boundary between the primary motor and somatosensory cortices, allowing for the integration of sensory feedback with motor commands. This integration enables the brain to refine and adjust movements in response to changing sensory input, ensuring smooth and coordinated actions.
Clinical Significance of the Central Sulcus
The central sulcus is an important landmark in neurosurgical procedures, as it helps guide surgeons when operating on the brain. Identifying the central sulcus is crucial to preserving motor and sensory functions during surgery.
Damage to the regions surrounding the central sulcus, such as the primary motor or somatosensory cortex, can lead to various neurological disorders, including motor deficits, sensory disturbances, and seizures. Accurate identification of the central sulcus is essential for diagnosing and treating these conditions.