Assignment of functional activations to probabilistic cytoarchitectonic areas revisited

Neuroimage. 2007 Jul 1;36(3):511-21. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.03.060. Epub 2007 Apr 10.


Probabilistic cytoarchitectonic maps in standard reference space provide a powerful tool for the analysis of structure-function relationships in the human brain. While these microstructurally defined maps have already been successfully used in the analysis of somatosensory, motor or language functions, several conceptual issues in the analysis of structure-function relationships still demand further clarification. In this paper, we demonstrate the principle approaches for anatomical localisation of functional activations based on probabilistic cytoarchitectonic maps by exemplary analysis of an anterior parietal activation evoked by visual presentation of hand gestures. After consideration of the conceptual basis and implementation of volume or local maxima labelling, we comment on some potential interpretational difficulties, limitations and caveats that could be encountered. Extending and supplementing these methods, we then propose a supplementary approach for quantification of structure-function correspondences based on distribution analysis. This approach relates the cytoarchitectonic probabilities observed at a particular functionally defined location to the areal specific null distribution of probabilities across the whole brain (i.e., the full probability map). Importantly, this method avoids the need for a unique classification of voxels to a single cortical area and may increase the comparability between results obtained for different areas. Moreover, as distribution-based labelling quantifies the "central tendency" of an activation with respect to anatomical areas, it will, in combination with the established methods, allow an advanced characterisation of the anatomical substrates of functional activations. Finally, the advantages and disadvantages of the various methods are discussed, focussing on the question of which approach is most appropriate for a particular situation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Models, Statistical*