A new map of the human brain

More than one hundred years ago, the German anatomist Korbinian Brodmann undertook a systematic analysis of the microscopic features of the brain cortex of humans (and several other species) and was able to create a detailed map of the cortex. Brodmann 52 areas  (illustrated below) are still used today to refer to specific regions of the cortex.


Despite the fact that he numbered brain cortex areas based mostly on the cellular composition of the tissues observed by microscope, there is remarkable correlation between specific Brodmann areas and specific functions in the cortex. For instance, area 17 is the primary visual cortex, while area 4 is the primary motor cortex.

This week, an article in Nature proposes a new map of the human cortex, much more detailed than the one developed by Brodmann. In this new map, each hemisphere of the cortex is subdivided into 180 regions.

A team led by Mathew Glasser used multiple types of imaging data collected from more than two hundred adults participants in the Human Connectome Project. The information included a number of different measurements including cortical thickness, brain function, connectivity between regions, and topographic organization of cells in brain tissue, among others.The following video, made available by Nature, gives an idea of the process followed by the researchers and the results obtained.

Image by Mark Dow, available at Wikimedia Commons.

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