Topographical variation of the human primary cortices: implications for neuroimaging, brain mapping, and neurobiology

Cereb Cortex. 1993 Jul-Aug;3(4):313-29. doi: 10.1093/cercor/3.4.313.


The relationships of the "primary" cytoarchitectonic neocortical fields, 17, 41, 3b, and 4 (Brodmann areas), to salient topographic landmarks have been reconstructed from serial histological sections in 20 human cerebral hemispheres (10 brains). Each of these architectonic fields is found to bear a characteristic relationship to a set of enframing anatomic landmarks, in particular, gyri, fissures, and sulci, that can be readily defined by MRI. Two classes of variability were found characteristic, at least to some extent, of each of the fields. Class 1 variability--variability that is not predictable from visible landmarks--was typical of the polar and for the cuneal and lingual extracalcarine distributions of field 17 and the distribution of field 4 upon the paracentral lobule. Class 2 variability--variability that is closely predictable from visible landmarks--is seen in the marked interindividual or interhemispheric variation in size or shape of a field and was found to be prominent for all four fields. Because of the prominence of class 2 variability, direct reference to the landmarks that frame these fields may be expected to be a more reliable basis for functional mapping than reference to a template or stereotactic coordinate-based system of reference to a standard or idealized brain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged