Optical imaging of animal somatosensory, olfactory and visual cortices has revealed maps of functional activity. In non-human primates, high-resolution maps of the visual cortex have been obtained using only an intrinsic reflection signal. Although the time course of the signal is slower than membrane potential changes, the maximum optical changes correspond to the maximal neuronal activity. The intrinsic optical signal may represent the flow of ionic currents, oxygen delivery, changes in blood volume, potassium accumulation or glial swelling. Here we use similar techniques to obtain maps from human cortex during stimulation-evoked epileptiform afterdischarges and cognitively evoked functional activity. Optical changes increased in magnitude as the intensity and duration of the afterdischarges increased. In areas surrounding the afterdischarge activity, optical changes were in the opposite direction and possibly represent an inhibitory surround. Large optical changes were found in the sensory cortex during tongue movement and in Broca's and Wernicke's language areas during naming exercises. The adaptation of high-resolution optical imaging for use on human cortex provides a new technique for investigation of the organization of the sensory and motor cortices, language, and other cognitive processes.