Operculum (brain)

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Operculum (brain)
The insula of the left side, exposed by removing the opercula
Latin operculum frontale, operculum parietale, operculum temporale
Gray's p.825
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy
green:parietal operculum, blue:temporal operculum, brown:insular cortex, red inset shows the position of the brain slice.
red:Brodmann area 41, green:Brodmann area 42, note 1: BA41 is bounded medially by Brodmann area 52 and laterally by BA42, note 2: pSTG is posterior part of the superior temporal gyrus

In human brain anatomy, an operculum (Latin, meaning "little lid") (pl. opercula), may refer to the frontal operculum, part of the frontal lobe, or to the parietal operculum, part of the parietal lobe, or to the temporal operculum, part of the temporal lobe, which together cover the insula as the opercula of insula.[1] It can also refer to the occipital operculum, part of the occipital lobe.

The insular lobe is a portion of the cerebral cortex that has invaginated to lie deep within the lateral sulcus. The insular lobe sits like an island (the meaning of insular) almost surrounded by the groove of the circular sulcus and covered over and obscured by the insular opercula.

A part of the parietal lobe, the frontoparietal operculum, covers the upper part of the insular lobe from the front to the back.[2] The opercula lie on the precentral and postcentral gyri (on either side of the central sulcus).[3] The part of the parietal operculum that forms the ceiling of the lateral sulcus functions as the secondary somatosensory cortex.


Normally, the insular opercula begin to develop between the 20th and the 22nd weeks of pregnancy. At weeks 14 to 16 of fetal development, the insula begins to invaginate from the surface of the immature cerebrum of the brain, until at full term, the opercula completely cover the insula.[4] This process is called opercularization.[5]

Albert Einstein's brain[edit]

Contrary to the literature, Albert Einstein's brain is not spherical and has non-confluent Sylvian and inferior postcentral sulci.[6]

Opinions differ on whether Einstein’s brain possessed parietal opercula. Falk, et al. claim the brain does have parietal opercula[6] while Witelson et al. claim it does not.[7]

Einstein's lower parietal lobe (which is responsible for mathematical thought, visuospatial cognition and imagery of movement) was 15% larger than average.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dorland 2012, p. 1328
  2. ^ Dorland 2012, p. 1327
  3. ^ Joseph M. Tonkonogy; Antonio E. Puente (23 January 2009). Localization of Clinical Syndromes in Neuropsychology and Neuroscience. Springer Publishing Company. p. 392. ISBN 978-0-8261-1967-4. Retrieved 12 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Larroche JC (1977). "Development of the central nervous system". Developmental Pathology of the Neonate. Amsterdam: Excerpta Medica. pp. 319–27. ISBN 978-90-219-2107-5. , as cited in note 3 of Chen CY, Zimmerman RA, Faro S, et al. (August 1996). "MR of the cerebral operculum: abnormal opercular formation in infants and children". American Journal of Neuroradiology 17 (7): 1303–11. PMID 8871716. 
  5. ^ Cheng-Yu Chen, Robert A. Zimmerman, Scott Faro, Beth Parrish, Zhiyue Wang, Larissa T. Bilaniuk, Ting-Ywan Chou. MR of the Cerebral Operculum. AJNR 16:1677–1687, Sep 1995 0195-6108/95/1608–1677 American Society of Neuroradiology
  6. ^ a b Falk 2012, p. 22 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Falk" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  7. ^ Witelson SF, Kigar DL, Harvey T (June 1999). "The exceptional brain of Albert Einstein". Lancet 353 (9170): 2149–53. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(98)10327-6. PMID 10382713.