Functional differentiation in the human ventromedial frontal lobe: A data-driven parcellation

Hum Brain Mapp. 2020 Aug 15;41(12):3266-3283. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25014. Epub 2020 Apr 21.


Ventromedial regions of the frontal lobe (vmFL) are thought to play a key role in decision-making and emotional regulation. However, aspects of this area's functional organization, including the presence of a multiple subregions, their functional and anatomical connectivity, and the cross-species homologies of these subregions with those of other species, remain poorly understood. To address this uncertainty, we employed a two-stage parcellation of the region to identify six distinct structures within the region on the basis of data-driven classification of functional connectivity patterns obtained using the meta-analytic connectivity modeling (MACM) approach. From anterior to posterior, the derived subregions included two lateralized posterior regions, an intermediate posterior region, a dorsal and ventral central region, and a single anterior region. The regions were characterized further by functional connectivity derived using resting-state fMRI and functional decoding using the Brain Map database. In general, the regions could be differentiated on the basis of different patterns of functional connectivity with canonical "default mode network" regions and/or subcortical regions such as the striatum. Together, the findings suggest the presence of functionally distinct neural structures within vmFL, consistent with data from experimental animals as well prior demonstrations of anatomical differences within the region. Detailed correspondence with the anterior cingulate, medial orbitofrontal cortex, and rostroventral prefrontal cortex, as well as specific animal homologs are discussed. The findings may suggest future directions for resolving potential functional and structural correspondence of subregions within the frontal lobe across behavioral contexts, and across mammalian species.

Keywords: connectivity-based parcellation; functional decoding; meta-analytic connectivity modeling; resting-state fMRI; ventromedial frontal lobe.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala* / anatomy & histology
  • Amygdala* / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala* / physiology
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Connectome
  • Default Mode Network* / anatomy & histology
  • Default Mode Network* / diagnostic imaging
  • Default Mode Network* / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli* / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli* / diagnostic imaging
  • Gyrus Cinguli* / physiology
  • Hippocampus* / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hippocampus* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex* / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex* / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex* / physiology
  • Thalamus* / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus* / physiology
  • Ventral Striatum* / anatomy & histology
  • Ventral Striatum* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ventral Striatum* / physiology