Parcellations and hemispheric asymmetries of human cerebral cortex analyzed on surface-based atlases

David C. Van Essen, Matthew F. Glasser, Donna L. Dierker, John Harwell, Timothy Coalson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

293 Scopus citations


We report on surface-based analyses that enhance our understanding of human cortical organization, including its convolutions and its parcellation into many distinct areas. The surface area of human neocortex averages 973 cm 2 per hemisphere, based on cortical midthickness surfaces of 2 cohorts of subjects. We implemented a method to register individual subjects to a hybrid version of the FreeSurfer "fsaverage" atlas whose left and right hemispheres are in precise geographic correspondence. Cortical folding patterns in the resultant population-average "fs-LR" midthickness surfaces are remarkably similar in the left and right hemispheres, even in regions showing significant asymmetry in 3D position. Both hemispheres are equal in average surface area, but hotspots of surface area asymmetry are present in the Sylvian Fissure and elsewhere, together with a broad pattern of asymmetries that are significant though small in magnitude. Multiple cortical parcellation schemes registered to the human atlas provide valuable reference data sets for comparisons with other studies. Identified cortical areas vary in size by more than 2 orders of magnitude. The total number of human neocortical areas is estimated to be ∼150 to 200 areas per hemisphere, which is modestly larger than a recent estimate for the macaque.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2241-2262
Number of pages22
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • architectonic
  • areas
  • maps
  • registration
  • retinotopy


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