The organization of the cerebral cortex into distinct modules may be described along several dimensions, most importantly, structure, connectivity and function. Identification of cortical modules by differences in whole-brain connectivity profiles derived from diffusion tensor imaging or resting state correlations has already been shown. These approaches, however, carry no task-related information. Hence, inference on the functional relevance of the ensuing parcellation remains tentative. Here, we demonstrate, that Meta-Analytic Connectivity Modeling (MACM) allows the delineation of cortical modules based on their whole-brain co-activation pattern across databased neuroimaging results. Using a model free approach, two regions of the medial pre-motor cortex, SMA and pre-SMA were differentiated solely based on their functional connectivity. Assessing the behavioral domain and paradigm class meta-data of the experiments associated with the clusters derived from the co-activation based parcellation moreover allows the identification of their functional characteristics. The ensuing hypotheses about functional differentiation and distinct functional connectivity between pre-SMA and SMA were then explicitly tested and confirmed in independent datasets using functional and resting state fMRI. Co-activation based parcellation thus provides a new perspective for identifying modules of functional connectivity and linking them to functional properties, hereby generating new and subsequently testable hypotheses about the organization of cortical modules.
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