Structural and functional analyses of human cerebral cortex using a surface-based atlas

D. C. Van Essen, H. A. Drury

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372 Scopus citations


We have analyzed the geometry, geography, and functional organization of human cerebral cortex using surface reconstructions and cortical flat maps of the left and right hemispheres generated from a digital atlas (the Visible Man). The total surface area of the reconstructed Visible Man neocortex is 1570 cm2 (both hemispheres), ~70% of which is buried in suIci. By linking the Visible Man cerebrum to the Talairach stereotaxic coordinate space, the locations of activation loci reported in neuroimaging studies can be readily visualized in relation to the cortical surface. The associated spatial uncertainty was empirically shown to have a radius in three dimensions of ~10 mm. Application of this approach to studies of visual cortex reveals the overall patterns of activation associated with different aspects of visual function and the relationship of these patterns to topographically organized visual areas. Our analysis supports a distinction between an anterior region in ventral occipito-temporal cortex that is selectively involved in form processing and a more posterior region (in or near areas VP and V4v) involved in both form and color processing. Foci associated with motion processing are mainly concentrated in a region along the occipito-temporal junction, the ventral portion of which overlaps with loci also implicated in form processing. Comparisons between flat maps of human and macaque monkey cerebral cortex indicate significant differences as well as many similarities in the relative sizes and positions of cortical regions known or suspected to be homologous in the two species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7079-7102
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1997


  • Atlas
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Computerized neuroanatomy
  • Human
  • Macaque monkey
  • Visible Man
  • Visual areas


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