What is homunculus?

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What Does homunculus Mean

A homunculus is a very small human being . The term, which has its etymological root in the Latin word homuncŭlus , is usually used in a derogatory sense, according to what is indicated by the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) in its dictionary.

The idea of ​​homunculus broke into alchemy . It was believed, in ancient times, that homunculi were humanoids that arose by combining human organs or fragments with other materials : the result was a species of tiny hybrid with life.
The supposed procedures for creating homunculi were varied and, of course, lacked any kind of scientific rigor. From spraying a mandrake root with honey, milk and blood to combining mercury with a person's hair or skin, to injecting semen into a chicken egg, multiple processes were postulated that obviously never yielded a verifiable result.

Sperm were also thought to be homunculi since, given the poor resolution of older microscopes, they were assumed to be in the shape of a miniature man . This led to the development of a theory that sperm were homunculi that grew in the womb of women until they were fully formed and born as babies.
In literature , homunculi are understood to be creatures created in laboratories or through rituals . In general, they are beings identical to their creators, although much smaller.
These homunculi often become servants or assistants of those who created them. Sometimes the bond is so close that when the creator dies, the homunculus also dies.
On the other hand we have the concept of cortical homunculus , a representation by means of the drawing of the different parts of the primary motor and primary somatestetic cortices of the human being. The first is a region of the brain that is located at the back of the frontal lobe; Together with the premotor areas, it is in charge of planning and executing the movements . The second, on the other hand, is an elevation of the surface of the brain that is in the parietal lobe and receives the sensations of the peripheral system and localizes them.
The cortical homunculus is a way to visually represent the idea of ​​the body from the point of view of the brain . Let's not forget that each part of our body corresponds to a complex series of nerve structures that are controlled in ways that are not obvious to us but that we are capable of "by nature."

In this context we can speak of two different classes of homunculi: sensory and motor. Both present different representations of the parts of the body with which they are related. In turn, each portion of our body is framed within the somatestetic cortex: the more sensitive they are, the larger the region they occupy.
The North American neurosurgeon Wilder Graves Penfield , one of the most relevant figures in the study of nervous tissue , used a similar image to represent the body according to the parts of the motor cortex involved in voluntary movement. The motor homunculus is often considered a kind of brain map of our body, although it is a proportional relationship between each member of the body and the cerebral cortex.
The motor homunculus plays a fundamental role in the phenomenon known as phantom limb , a syndrome suffered by people who have undergone the amputation of one of their limbs when they continue to feel its presence. On the other hand, it also serves to study the opposite case, such as the lack of conscious perception of one or more members of the body due to different types of damage to the brain.

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