Localization of sensorimotor cortex: The influence of sherrington and cushing on the modern concept

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According to Penfield, the work of Charles Sherrington's laboratory forced a change from the long-held concept of a broad, overlapping sensorimotor cortex to the concept of a narrow, discrete pre-Rolandic motor cortex separate from the post-Rolandic sensory strip. Harvey Cushing, one of the founders of modern neurosurgery, coined the term narrow motor strip. Cushing also appears to have been the first to color the precentral gyrus in a mosaic pattern and to use red coloring for the motor cortex and blue for the sensory cortex. Cushing's red and blue color coding is still used in textbooks, nearly 100 years later. In this article, we review the historical evolution of and the evidence for the concept of narrow and discrete motor and sensory strips anterior and posterior to the Rolandic cortex. A review of the historical development of the concept and recent physiological studies reaffirms the proposition that the motor and sensory areas are much broader and more complex than they were thought to be in the classic teaching that originated with Sherrington and Cushing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)904-913
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • Charles sherrington
  • Harvey cushing
  • History of medicine
  • Sensorimotor cortex
  • Victor horsley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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