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Depicting the inner and outer nose: The representation of the nose and the nasal mucosa on the human primary somatosensory cortex (SI)

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Abstract

The nose is important not only for breathing, filtering air, and perceiving olfactory stimuli. Although the face and hands have been mapped, the representation of the internal and external surface of the nose on the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) is still poorly understood. To fill this gap functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to localize the nose and the nasal mucosa in the Brodman areas (BAs) 3b, 1, and 2 of the human postcentral gyrus (PG). Tactile stimulation during fMRI was applied via a customized pneumatically driven device to six stimulation sites: the alar wing of the nose, the lateral nasal mucosa, and the hand (serving as a reference area) on the left and right side of the body. Individual representations could be discriminated for the left and right hand, for the left nasal mucosa and left alar wing of the nose in BA 3b and BA 1 by comparing mean activation maxima and Euclidean distances. Right-sided nasal conditions and conditions in BA 2 could further be separated by different Euclidean distances. Regarding the alar wing of the nose, the results concurred with the classic sensory homunculus proposed by Penfield and colleagues. The nasal mucosa was not only determined an individual and bilateral representation, its position on the somatosensory cortex is also situated closer to the caudal end of the PG compared to that of the alar wing of the nose and the hand. As SI is commonly activated during the perception of odors, these findings underscore the importance of the knowledge of the representation of the nasal mucosa on the primary somatosensory cortex, especially for interpretation of results of functional imaging studies about the sense of smell. Hum Brain Mapp 35:4751–4766, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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