Abstract

One way to improve our understanding of cortical anatomy is to visualize the three-dimensional (3D) shape of the cerebral sulci which is normally hidden. Here, we reconstructed the 3D morphology of the central sulcus (CS) in 17 normal subjects, using conventional magnetic resonance images and dedicated software. We found that the 3D morphology was remarkably consistent in all central sulci. Our analyses revealed three different regions (upper, middle and lower), which were easily identifiable by morphological criteria and sharply interconnected in the reconstructed CS. These morphological regions appear to have a strong functional significance, since the middle region corresponded precisely to the 'hand area', as verified by hand vibration positron emission tomography activation studies in eight cases. These data suggest that the 3D anatomy of the cerebral cortex may facilitate sulcal recognition, and sulcal subdivision into smaller morphological elements, bearing remarkable relationships with functional cortical maps.