Have you ever wondered how fast information travels through the body? How much time does the brain need to process scent, touch, visuals, or sounds?
Our neurons gather sensory information and send it all the way to the sensory cortex. And the sensory cortex is what enables us to interpret this information.
Simply put, the sensory cortex is the part of the brain in charge of interpreting and receiving information coming from the different parts of the body. Let’s learn some basics about the sensory cortex and why it’s so important to us.
What Is the Sensory-Motor Cortex?
As your body moves, your brain grooves.– Jim Kwik, the Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest
Located in the frontal lobe, our sensory-motor cortex is a part of the cerebral cortex.
This part of our brain is in charge of control, planning, and voluntary movements. Every move you make is a product of your sensory-motor cortex at work.
What Is the Function of the Sensory Cortex in the Brain?
Our sensory cortex consists of 4 areas: 1, 2, 3a, and 3b. Each area has a certain role.
Most of the processing of the information starts in area 3. The initial processing of all that we feel happens here.
Area 3b is in charge of processing everything that we touch or that touches us. Area 3a receives information from proprioceptors and responds to it. Once the information is processed in area 3b, it goes to areas 1 and 2 to more complex processing.
Each of these 4 areas receives information from different parts of your body.
Everything we feel goes through the sensory cortex. It acts as a translator of a language that we, without it, wouldn’t be able to understand at all.
Where Is the Sensory Cortex Located and What Does It Do?
So, the sensory cortex is roughly located in the center of our brain, between the parietal and frontal lobes. (There are four lobes of the brain in total.) The sensory cortex is located at the top of the brain in the postcentral gyrus.
Our body is full of neurons, the cells that can sense sound, pain, and visual stimuli. They are like the “right hand” of our brain that sends the information to the thalamus and primary somatosensory cortex for further processing.
So, our somatosensory cortex, once it receives the information, has to figure out what all that information actually means.
Once it figures out, it informs our body so that we can react to what’s happening.
Why Is the Sensory Cortex Important?
Being highly connected to other parts of the brain, the sensory cortex is just one tool in our finely crafted thinking repertoire.
This tool is the “translation tool.” And it matters a whole lot.
Stop and think for a moment: what would happen if you wouldn’t be able to feel the pain?
Imagine suffering from a broken bone but not being able to sense the pain. It sounds cool but in reality, it really isn’t. Pain is the alarm system alerting us that something should be treated.
We need this system to survive.
The sensory cortex helps us stay connected to the world around us. It helps us translate our physical environment and react to what’s happening. Without this system, we wouldn’t be able to feel.
So, the next time you experience the strength of a friend’s embrace, the spice of a delicious meal, or the warmth of being wrapped in a blanket on a cool evening, stop to appreciate the power of your sensory cortex.
It’s truly magnificent.