Edwin Boldrey and Wilder Penfield's homunculus: a life given by Mrs. Cantlie (in and out of realism).

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Summary of "Edwin Boldrey and Wilder Penfield's homunculus: a life given by Mrs. Cantlie (in and out of realism)."

For nearly 90 years, notions of the brain have been inextricably associated with a homunculus that has become embedded within medical education as the "precise" representation of rolandic cortical function. We sought to define the history, evolution, accuracy, and impact of this pictorial means of illustrating cortical representation. We mathematically defined the evolutionary accuracy of appropriate homunculi using image analysis techniques for all points defined by Penfield, Boldrey, Rasmussen, Jasper, and Erickson, calculating perpendicular distances and defining areas and distributions of rolandic and sylvian regions labeled for sensory and motor activity with comparison to all homunculi. Prerolandic sensory representation composed 13%-47% of total sensory area (mean 29%); postrolandic motor representation composed 15%-65% of total motor area (mean 31%). Discrepancy between cortical "perpendicular" length attributed to a particular function on 1937 diagrams was greater than that attributed on the 1950 homunculus (motor: mean 74%, range 63%-96%; sensory: mean 66%, 17%-92%) (P<.05). The homunculus, if truly drawn according to cortical mapping evidence, could never have been recognized as near humanoid, yet it has attained epic educational and practical longevity.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: World neurosurgery
ISSN: 1878-8769


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