Observer-Independent Cytoarchitectonic Mapping of the Human Superior Parietal Cortex


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Abstract

The human superior parietal cortex (SPC; Brodmann areas [BA] 5 and 7) comprises the superior parietal lobule and medial wall of the intraparietal sulcus (mIPS) laterally and the posterior paracentral lobule and precuneus medially. Receptor autoradiographic and functional studies indicate more complex segregations in the SPC than suggested by Brodmann (1909). Differences to other historical maps may be due to anatomical variability between brains and different definition criteria for areas. To provide a reliable anatomical reference of the SPC, we performed an observer-independent cytoarchitectonic mapping of this region in 10 human postmortem brains. Cytoarchitecture was analyzed in cell-body–stained brain sections using gray-level index profiles. Multivariate statistical analysis of profile shape allowed the exact localization of cytoarchitectonic borders and quantification of interareal differences. We identified 3 areas in BA 5 (5L, 5M, and 5Ci), 4 in BA 7 (7PC, 7A, 7P, and 7M), and 1 in the anterior mIPS (hIP3). Locations of their borders relative to macroanatomical landmarks varied considerably between brains and hemispheres. Cytoarchitectonic profiles of areas 5Ci and hIP3 differed most from those of the remaining areas, and differences between subareas were stronger in BA 5 than in BA 7. These areas are possible structural correlates of functional segregations within the SPC.

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