Know Your Horse-unculus

In the world of neuroscience, researchers and instructors have developed the “homunculus” to show through exaggerated size screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-3-51-34-pmthose areas of the human body which we know to have a greater representation of neurons in the somatosensory cortex in the brain, the main sensory receptive area for the sense of touch. Check out the image at right.

The Horse-unculus is a model developed by HorseHead & BestHorsePractices to illustrate through exaggerated size and shining light those areas which we know to be more sensitive, ie, having a greater representation in the somatosensory cortex of the horse’s brain.

Areas of high sensitivity include the entire head, but also specifically:

  • muzzle area (which is loaded with vibrissae, or whiskers, each of which has its own nerve)
  • eyes
  • ears
  • tongue
  • nose

These areas are densely populated with sensory nerves and are all represented by larger portions of the somatosensory cortex.

Other areas with greater representation:

  • withers
  • lower flank
  • coronet band (where the hoof wall meets the hairline)

These are additional areas that have greater representation in this part of the brain. The horse-unculus highlights through exaggerated size and brighter color those noted areas.

It’s helpful to be aware and considerate of these extra sensitive areas when working with our horses.


3 thoughts to “Know Your Horse-unculus”

  1. A nice visual representation. I would not have picked out the withers and lower flank if asked to identify the higher represented areas.

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