Functional clusters in the human parietal cortex as revealed by an observer-independent meta-analysis of functional activation studies
The human parietal cortex is a highly differentiated structure consisting of cytoarchitectonically defined subareas that are specifically connected with other cortical and subcortical areas. Based on evidence from neurophysiological studies in subhuman primates these subareas are supposed to be functionally highly specialized. Here, we reviewed 51 different neuroimaging studies on healthy subjects with activation of the parietal lobe in statistical parametric maps. Running a cluster analysis on the stereotactic coordinates of the centers of gravity of the activation areas and plotting them into Talairach space showed a high consistency of the mean activation foci for similar paradigms across different laboratories and functional imaging modalities. Our meta-analysis exposed seven distinct pairs of quite symmetrically distributed subareas of the parietal cortex of each hemisphere as well as three unpaired regions that are critically involved in the generation of limb and eye movements in egocentric and allocentric coordinates, but also in attention, memory and cognitive problem solving. These data highlights the modular organization of the human parietal lobe. By its locally interspersed distributed circuits it orchestrates specialized cognitive subfunctions interfacing perception and action. Our meta-analysis provides a new framework for understanding information processing in the human parietal cortex.
KeywordsParietal lobe Functional imaging fMRT PET Topography
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