Historically, the human frontal pole (FP) has been considered as a single architectonic area. Brodmann's area 10 is located in the frontal lobe with known contributions in the execution of various higher order cognitive processes. However, recent cytoarchitectural studies of the FP in humans have shown that this portion of cortex contains two distinct cytoarchitectonic regions. Since architectonic differences are accompanied by differential connectivity and functions, the frontal pole qualifies as a candidate region for exploratory parcellation into functionally discrete sub-regions. We investigated whether this functional heterogeneity is reflected in distinct segregations within cytoarchitectonically defined FP-areas using meta-analytic co-activation based parcellation (CBP). The CBP method examined the co-activation patterns of all voxels within the FP as reported in functional neuroimaging studies archived in the BrainMap database. Voxels within the FP were subsequently clustered into sub-regions based on the similarity of their respective meta-analytically derived co-activation maps. Performing this CBP analysis on the FP via k-means clustering produced a distinct 3-cluster parcellation for each hemisphere corresponding to previously identified cytoarchitectural differences. Post-hoc functional characterization of clusters via BrainMap metadata revealed that lateral regions of the FP mapped to memory and emotion domains, while the dorso- and ventromedial clusters were associated broadly with emotion and social cognition processes. Furthermore, the dorsomedial regions contain an emphasis on theory of mind and affective related paradigms whereas ventromedial regions couple with reward tasks. Results from this study support previous segregations of the FP and provide meta-analytic contributions to the ongoing discussion of elucidating functional architecture within human FP.
Keywords: BrainMap; Co-activations; Connectivity-based parcellation; Frontal lobe; Frontal pole; Meta-analysis.
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