Functional Cortical Regions

Motor Areas

Primary Motor Cortex:

Allows us to control the precise or skilled voluntary movements of our skeletal muscles. This functional cortical area is located in the percentile gyrus of both cerebral hemispheres. The muscles of the entire body are mapped along this cortex. Mapping such as this is known somatotopy and is represented in the image below. Remember that the motor innervation of the body is contralateral. Pyramidal cells (cells of the primary motor cortex) located in the left cortex, innervate the skeletal muscles on the right side of the body.

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Pre Motor Cortex:

Located anterior to the primary motor cortex, this functional region is involved in motor planning. This region sequences basic motor tasks and develops the plans for more complex movements.

Take typing for example. The primary motor cortex is responsible for performing the individual movements of the hands and fingers, but the motor plan for typing is developed and delivered by the premotor cortex.

Frontal Eye Field

Controls voluntary movements of the eyes

Broca’s Area

Controls the muscles involved in speech production. May also be involved with other forms of communication production (writing, sign language, etc)

Sensory Areas

Primary somatosensory cortex:

This region is responsible conscious sensory awareness. Specifically the primary somatosensory cortex receives stimuli from the general somatic sensory receptors in the skin and the proprioceptors in muscles joints and tendons. This region displays somatotopy in a manner similar to that of the primary motor cortex and is located in the post central gyrus.

Somatosensory association area

The first association area on our list, this region is highly integrated with the primary somatosensory cortex and is responsible for assigning meaning to incoming sensory information. While we may become aware of a sensation in the primary sensory cortex, it is the association area that allows us to interpret the sensation and tie it into past experience. Without this region, we would not be ablate identify objects solely by touch.

Visual cortex

Responsible for receiving visual information from the retina of the eyes. Located on the posterior and medial aspects of the occipital lobe.

Visual association area

This is an incredibly important region as it allows us to attach meaning to incoming visual stimuli. Without this region we would not be able to recognize faces, or objects by sight, or attach emotion to them.

Auditory cortex

Receives auditory information from the cochlea of the inner ear.

Auditory association area/Wernicke’s area

The auditory association cortex allows us to interpret and apply meaning to auditory stimuli in a manner similar to the visual association cortex and visual stimuli. A region of this cortex is known as Wernicke’s area and is responsible specifically for the interpretation of speech.


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