Central sulcus

Dr Craig Hacking and Dr Azza Elgendy et al.

The central sulcus (of Rolando) is a very important landmark in both anatomical and functional neuroanatomy.

Gross anatomy

The central sulcus separates the frontal lobe from the parietal lobe, and more specifically separates the primary motor cortex anteriorly from the primary somatosensory cortex posteriorly 1.

Radiographic features

A number of landmarks and signs have been identified as being variably useful in identifying the central sulcus on cross-sectional imaging. 

The central sulcus tends to be the longest sulcus in a roughly coronal plane, and reaching the midline to enter the interhemispheric fissure. This is sometimes referred to as the midline sulcus sign. Although this is probably the best-known feature, unfortunately in practice is not terribly reliable and thus numerous other features/signs have been described to aid identification of various regional anatomic features. These include 1,3:

Although various individuals and publications expound the virtues of one or more of these signs, the reality is that in practice one should use as many of them as possible to understand the local anatomy. In the vast majority of cases, unless there are serious congenital sulcation anomalies, prior damage (e.g. surgery) or distorting masses (e.g. tumours), the central sulcus can be identified with certainty by evaluating the region for the above features. In cases where anatomy is uncertain, or it is of critical importance to confirm the anatomy, then functional MRI can be performed, particularly aimed at identifying the hand motor cortex. 

Anatomy: Brain
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Article information

rID: 33617
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Central fissure
  • The central sulcus
  • Central (Rolandic) sulcus
  • Fissure of Rolando
  • Rolandic sulcus

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Cases and figures

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    Figure 1
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    Figure 2
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    Figure 3: MR anatomy
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    Figure 4: neuroanatomy: medial cortex (diagrams)
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    Figure 3: neuroanatomy: superior cortex (diagrams)
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