The problem of functional localization in the human brain

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Mar;3(3):243-9. doi: 10.1038/nrn756.


Functional imaging gives us increasingly detailed information about the location of brain activity. To use this information, we need a clear conception of the meaning of location data. Here, we review methods for reporting location in functional imaging and discuss the problems that arise from the great variability in brain anatomy between individuals. These problems cause uncertainty in localization, which limits the effective resolution of functional imaging, especially for brain areas involved in higher cognitive function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Genetic Variation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / instrumentation
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods