Saturday, 9 October 2010

Which part of the brain is involved in sensation?

Q: Which part of the brain is involved in relaying somatic sensory information from the skin of the trunk and extremities to the somatosensory cortex? 

A: The thalamus has several functions, one of which is the processing and relaying of sensory information. It receives sensory signals and then relays them to the appropriate cortical area in the cerebral cortex. The thalamus sits between the cerebral cortex and the midbrain, and comprises of a paired structure in the midline of the brain. 

The primary somatosensory cortex is situated in the lateral postcentral gyrus of the parietal lobe of the brain. The somatosensory cortex can be visually represented by the fascinating cortical homunculus, which shows how different body parts are functionally organised within the brain. You may notice on the image below that the hands, lips and face appear larger than other parts of the body. Depending on their function, areas which require more motor and/or sensory nerves are represented as larger than other parts of the body.
Hope you have found this helpful. Feel free to send any further questions here.

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