Somatosensory Cortex

Last update: September 18, 2022
By BrainMatters


This area is involved is the processing of touch, pain and temperature.


This area is responsible for the sense of touch of your body. This area becomes active when you touch something (this is called mechanoreception), cut your hand (nociception), or when you touch something very cold or warm (thermoception).

The primary somatosensory cortex, like the primary motor cortex, is built according to a somatotopic map. This means that each body part is represented in a different part of this area. The legs and trunk are at the top of this map. If you follow the cortex downward, you will encounter successive representations of the arms, hands, and finally the face. This map is called the sensory homunculus.


The somatosensory cortex is located in the anterior part of the parietal lobe, on the postcentral gyrus of the brain.

A close-up of a globe

Description automatically generated with low confidence


The representation of lips and hands in the homunculus is much larger than that of other body parts. Thus, the information from lips and hands is processed by many neurons, and because of this, these body parts are best used to distinguish textures.


Damage to this area can have several consequences:

  1. No longer being able to feel exactly where your skin is being touched, or when the skin is touching something else.
  2. Not being able to perceive differences in pressure. You do not know whether you scratch something lightly or hit it hard.
  3. Astereognosis, where you can no longer recognize objects by feeling them.

Author: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)

Image: Marcel Loeffen

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