Revisiting a historic human brain with magnetic resonance imaging – the first description of a divided central sulcus
Frontiers Media SA -- Frontiers in Neuroanatomy
DOI 10.3389/fnana.2014.00035
Keyword(s)
  1. cerebral cortex
  2. cortical anatomy
  3. pli de passage fronto-parietal moyen
  4. Conrad Heinrich Fuchs
  5. Carl Friedrich Gauss
Abstract(s)

In 1860 and 1862, the German physiologist Wagner published two studies, in which he compared the cortical surfaces of brain specimens. This provided the first account of a rare anatomical variation – bridges across the central sulci in both hemispheres connecting the forward and backward facing central convolutions in one of the brains. The serendipitous rediscovery of the preserved historic brain specimen in the collections at Göttingen University, being mistaken as the brain of the mathematician C.F. Gauss, allowed us to further investigate the morphology of the bridges Wagner had described with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). On the historic lithograph, current photographs and MRI surface reconstructions of the brain, a connection across the central sulcus can only be seen in the left hemisphere. In the right hemisphere, contrary to the description of Wagner, a connecting structure is only present across the post-central sulcus. MRI reveals that the left-hemispheric bridge extends into the depth of the sulcus, forming a transverse connection between the two opposing gyri. This rare anatomical variation, generally not associated with neurological symptoms, would nowadays be categorized as a divided central sulcus. The left-hemispheric connection seen across the post-central sulcus, represents the very common case of a segmented post-central sulcus. MRI further disclosed a connection across the right-hemispheric central sulcus, which terminates just below the surface of the brain and is therefore not depicted on the historical lithography. This explains the apparent inconsistency between the bilateral description of bridges across the central sulci and the unilateral appearance on the brain surface. The results are discussed based on the detailed knowledge of anatomists of the late 19th century, who already recognized the divided central sulcus as an extreme variation of a deep convolution within the central sulcus.