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Reciprocal anatomical relationship between primary sensory and prefrontal cortices in the human brain

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posted on 2023-06-08, 14:33 authored by Chen Song, Dietrich Samuel Schwarzkopf, Ryota Kanai, Geraint Rees
The human brain exhibits remarkable interindividual variability in cortical architecture. Despite extensive evidence for the behavioral consequences of such anatomical variability in individual cortical regions, it is unclear whether and how different cortical regions covary in morphology. Using a novel approach that combined noninvasive cortical functional mapping with whole-brain voxel-based morphometric analyses, we investigated the anatomical relationship between the functionally mapped visual cortices and other cortical structures in healthy humans. We found a striking anticorrelation between the gray matter volume of primary visual cortex and that of anterior prefrontal cortex, independent from individual differences in overall brain volume. Notably, this negative correlation formed along anatomically separate pathways, as the dorsal and ventral parts of primary visual cortex showed focal anticorrelation with the dorsolateral and ventromedial parts of anterior prefrontal cortex, respectively. Moreover, a similar inverse correlation was found between primary auditory cortex and anterior prefrontal cortex, but no anatomical relationship was observed between other visual cortices and anterior prefrontal cortex. Together, these findings indicate that an anatomical trade-off exists between primary sensory cortices and anterior prefrontal cortex as a possible general principle of human cortical organization. This new discovery challenges the traditional view that the sizes of different brain areas simply scale with overall brain size and suggests the existence of shared genetic or developmental factors that contributes to the formation of anatomically and functionally distant cortical regions.


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Journal of Neuroscience




Society for Neuroscience





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