Architectonics of the human cerebral cortex and transmitter receptor fingerprints: reconciling functional neuroanatomy and neurochemistry

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2002 Dec;12(6):587-99. doi: 10.1016/s0924-977x(02)00108-6.


The density of transmitter receptors varies between different locations in the human cerebral cortex. We hypothesized that this variation may reflect the cyto- and myeloarchitectonical as well as the functional organisation of the cortex. We compared data from different imaging modalities (postmortem studies: cyto- and myeloarchitecture, quantitative in vitro receptor autoradiography; in vivo studies: PET receptor neuroimaging) in order to test our hypothesis. The regional and laminar distribution of the densities of numerous receptor types representing all classical transmitter systems as well as the adenosine system are visualized and measured in different cortical areas. The receptor distribution patterns segregate motor, primary sensory, unimodal sensory, multimodal association and other functionally identified cortical areas from each other. Areas of similar function show similar receptor fingerprints and differ from those with other properties. Thus, receptor distribution patterns reflect an organisational structure strictly correlated with the architectonics and functions of the human cerebral cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Autoradiography
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cholinergic / metabolism
  • Receptors, Dopamine / metabolism
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Purinergic P1 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Serotonin / metabolism
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Receptors, Purinergic P1
  • Receptors, Serotonin