Mapping the complex topological organization of the human parietal face area

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Abstract

The macaque monkey ventral intraparietal area (VIP) contains neurons with aligned visual-tactile receptive fields anchored to the face and upper body. Our previous fMRI studies using standard head coils found a human parietal face area (VIP+ complex; putative macaque VIP homologue) containing superimposed topological maps of the face and near-face visual space. Here, we construct high signal-to-noise surface coils and used phase-encoded air puffs and looming stimuli to map topological organization of the parietal face area at higher resolution. This area is consistently identified as a region extending between the superior postcentral sulcus and the upper bank of the anterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS), avoiding the fundus of IPS. Using smaller voxel sizes, our surface coils picked up strong fMRI signals in response to tactile and visual stimuli. By analyzing tactile and visual maps in our current and previous studies, we constructed a set of topological models illustrating commonalities and differences in map organization across subjects. The most consistent topological feature of the VIP+ complex is a central-anterior upper face (and upper visual field) representation adjoined by lower face (and lower visual field) representations ventrally (laterally) and/or dorsally (medially), potentially forming two subdivisions VIPv (ventral) and VIPd (dorsal). The lower visual field representations typically extend laterally into the anterior IPS to adjoin human area AIP, and medially to overlap with the parietal body areas at the superior parietal ridge. Significant individual variations are then illustrated to provide an accurate and comprehensive view of the topological organization of the parietal face area.

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