The Homunculus-A Rundown
When you hear the word homunculus, what do you think of? Perhaps an artificial humanoid created through Alchemy. Maybe you’ve heard folklore involving such a creature. Maybe the only connection you make to the word homunculus is its Latin definition; little man. But I’m thinking more of The Cortical Homunculus.
Or rather, the homunculus in your brain. Not literally, of course. The Cortical Homunculus is a distorted representation of your body based off of your based off of your motor and sensory functions’ proportions. A cortical homunculus, otherwise referred to as the “Cortex Man” gives a visual representation of a man lying on the brain, his hands, lips, and tongue disproportionately large as they tend to be the most sensitive parts of the body or the parts of your body that send the brain the most sensory information. That being said, there isn’t just one type of homunculus.
You have a sensory homunculus and a motor homunculus. They’re really self-explanatory. Your motor homunculus represents the area of your brain dedicated to motor functions which are primarily handled in your precentral gyrus, while your sensory homunculus represents the area of your brain dedicated to sensory functions which are primarily handled in your the postcentral gyrus. Respectively, each homunculus has different proportions, of course. Your motor homunculus has much larger hands than your sensory homunculus, and your sensory homunculus has much bigger lips, but the hands, lips, and tongue are the largest in both representations.
Although you’re probably wondering how something so odd came into creation. Well, Dr.Wilder Penfield, Theodore Rasmussen, and Edwin Boldrey are the originators of the motor and sensory homunculi. Though they weren’t the first to play with the idea altogether, they were the first to sperate sensory and motor functions into separate models. Penfield usually showed his homunculi in 2D models and referred to them as “grotesque creatures” until they were eventually made into 3D models by Sharon-Price-James.
There you have it, a basic rundown on The Cortical Homunculus.