We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Somatosensory Cortex?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The somatosensory cortex is an area of the brain that processes input from the various systems in the body that are sensitive to touch. People often think of touch as a single sense, but in fact, several different sensory experiences are involved, including specific sensitivity to pain and temperature, and the proprioception system, which monitors the body's place in space. The somatosensory system as a whole is extremely refined and highly sensitive, allowing people to detect and interpret a wide variety of sensations.

The Somatosensory System

Across the body, a network of nerve cells react when they experience sensations related to physical perception. Specialized cells react specifically to pain, while others fire in response to passing breezes, pressure, and a wide variety of other sensations, such as the heat of the sun or the chill that comes from an open refrigerator. Impulses travel along these nerves to reach a part of the brain called the thalamus, which also deals with information from other senses, such as vision and hearing, and passes the signals on to the somatosensory cortex.

Location and Structure

The somatosensory cortex is located within an area of the brain called the postcentral gyrus, a structure that forms a band around the middle of the cerebral cortex, encompassing both hemispheres. It is next to the motor cortex, which deals with movement of different parts of the body, and is organized along similar lines in terms of which areas relate to which body parts. Different regions of the cortex correspond to input from different groups of nerve cells; the largest parts correspond to areas such as the face, which are highly sensitive. Neurons are also organized according to the different types of sensation to which they respond, with some sensitive to pressure, some to temperature, some to vibration, and so on.

Researchers have identified the precise regions where sensations are interpreted and have come up with representative human figures that show proportionally how much of the brain is dedicated to sensation from various areas of the body. The technical term for such a figure is a homunculus, or “little man,” and people may refer to a “sensory homunculus” in particular to make it clear that they mean a visual representation of the somatosensory system. The head and hands of the figure are very large compared with other parts of the body, such as the limbs and the trunk. This is because so much of this region of the brain is dedicated to sensations from these parts of the body, which have many nerve endings, while the other parts have relatively few.


The somatosensory cortex is able to reorganize itself to some extent in response to external events. For example, if a finger is amputated, the corresponding part of the cortex can be “rewired” to respond to signals from the fingers on either side. This region of the brain can also adjust itself according to the amount of stimulation it receives from different parts of the body. An increase in the use of certain fingers, for example, will lead to an increase in the amount of cortex that deals with these parts. These are examples of neural plasticity: the ability of parts of the brain to change their function according to circumstances.

Effects of Damage

When part of this area of the brain becomes damaged through injury or disease, a person may experience problems relating to the sense of touch. This may take the form of loss of sensation in some body parts, insensitivity to temperature, or an inability to recognize objects by touch. When neurological problems that interfere with sensation are identified, a neurologist can conduct tests to determine the source of the problem so that treatment recommendations can be made to the patient.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon141025 — On Jan 09, 2011

The info on this website helped me a lot. This website is also very useful if you're doing a science fair project.

By Qohe1et — On Dec 04, 2010


Schizophrenia is like dreaming while one is awake, and if one can "feel" in a dream, one can also perceive to be feeling something in certain periods of schizophrenia. The Somatosensory Cortex can thus misinformed by projections of the mind during schizophrenia due to various hormonal imbalances in chemicals such as Serotonin and Dopamine.

By Armas1313 — On Dec 03, 2010

I wonder what the effects of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia have upon the Somatosensory Cortex and its functions?

By hangugeo112 — On Dec 02, 2010

It is so fascinating to watch a baby develop in terms of the many brain functions. It is miraculous how they are able to pick up speech and coordinate all their movements as they mature. I only wish we could keep this childhood brilliance into adulthood so that we could keep learning more and more languages, methods, and coordinations of various mental operations.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.