Written by: Liz Paton, MSc
History of the Brodmann Brain
The human brain is the organ that controls every voluntary and involuntary action. The Brodmann areas of the brain are part of a system used to divide the cerebral cortex characterised by its cytoarchitecture (the arrangement of cells in a tissue). The Brodmann map was invented in 1909 by German neurologist and founder of brain mapping, Korbinian Brodmann. He defined 52 distinct regions of the cerebral cortex based on their histological structure, some of which are subdivided and some that are only present in non-human primates. Each area is associated with specific brain functions.
Key Brodmann Areas
The brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for self-awareness, emotions, planning, judgment, movement, and speech. Some key areas found in the frontal lobe are Brodmann areas 4, 6, 44 and 45.
Brodmann area 4, found in the precentral gyrus of the frontal lobe, contains the primary motor cortex. This is the part of the brain that controls voluntary movement, such as manipulating objects.
Brodmann area 6, found in the frontal cortex, contains the premotor cortex and supplementary motor cortex, and helps plan complex and coordinated movements.
Brodmann areas 44 and 45 are known as the Broca’s area, named after the French physician, Paul Broca. This is the area of the brain associated with speech and language.
The parietal lobe contains the sensory cortex, responsible for the sense of touch, pain and temperature. Some notable Brodmann areas found in the parietal include Brodmann areas 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7.
Brodmann areas 1, 2 and 3 are found in the postcentral gyrus of the brain and contain the somatosensory cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for the perception and sense of touch, pain, and temperature.
Brodmann area 5 is part of the somatosensory association cortex and involves the conscious perception of touch, position, and movement. Found posterior to Brodmann Area 5 is Brodmann area 7, which is responsible for locating objects in space.
The temporal lobe is responsible for memory, hearing, organisation and language interpretation. There are several important Brodmann areas found in the temporal lobes, including Brodmann areas 22, 27, 35, 36, 37, 41, 42 and 43.
Brodmann area 22 is known as the Wernicke’s area, named after a German physician, Carl Wernicke. This area is responsible for the comprehension of speech. Brodmann area 27 is involved with the perception of smell.
Brodmann areas 35 and 36, located in the perirhinal cortex and ectorhinal area, are involved with memory. Brodmann area 37, which contains the fusiform gyrus, is necessary for the recognition of faces.
Brodmann areas 41 and 42 are known together as the primary auditory cortex and are involved with processing auditory information. Brodmann area 43 is known as the primary gustatory cortex and is responsible for the perception of taste and flavour.
The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for interpreting vision. Two important Brodmann areas found in the occipital lobe are Brodmann areas 17 and 18.
Brodmann areas 17 and 18 correspond with the primary visual cortex (V1) and secondary visual cortex (V2), respectively. The primary visual cortex processes visual information relayed by the retinas of the eye, including detecting light intensity and recognising colour. The secondary visual cortex receives afferent fibres from V1 is responsible for sight interpretation by relating visual information to things previously seen and interpreted.