Abstract

Penfield and Rasmussen's homunculus is the valid map of the neural body representation of nearly each textbook of biology, physiology, and neuroscience. The somatosensory homunculus places the foot representation on the mesial surface of the postcentral gyrus followed by the representations of the lower leg and the thigh in superio-lateral direction. However, this strong homuncular organization contradicts the “dermatomal” organization of spinal nerves. We used somatosensory-evoked magnetic fields and source analysis to study the leg's neural representation in the primary somatosensory cortex (SI). We show that the representation of the back of the thigh is located inferior to the foot's representation in SI whereas the front of the thigh is located laterally to the foot's representation. This observation indicates that the localization of the leg in SI rather follows the dermatomal organization of spinal nerves than the typical map of neighboring body parts as depicted in Penfield and Rasmussen's illustration of the somatosensory homunculus.

You do not currently have access to this article.