Science Times: Human Cerebral Cortex Map 2.0

Structure and function are 2 requisite features for developing a map of the human brain. When Brodmann1 defined a map of the cerebral cortex in 1909, he summarized 43 distinct cytoarchitectonic areas of the brain. His work in defining these histologically derived parcels set the framework for understanding the cerebral cortex. Since then, strategies to revise and improve the mapping of the cerebral cortex have been elusive. Even though Brodmann created a map based on postmortem histological characteristics of the cerebrum, he lacked the element of in vivo characterization of function.

Recently, Glasser et al2 established a cortical mapping scheme that uses multiple imaging modalities to characterize distinct parcels of anatomic and functional regions. With the advances of high-quality magnetic resonance images (MRIs), we are now able to noninvasively “peek” into the structure of the brain and measure properties such as myelin content and cortical thickness. The advances in functional MRIs now allow neuroscientists to match a patient’s task-driven function to specific anatomic areas. This new map integrates modern methods of classifying parcels that integrate both functional and anatomic areas of the brain and has been >100 years in the making.

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