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Neuroimage. 2000 Jun;11(6 Pt 1):684-96.

Areas 3a, 3b, and 1 of human primary somatosensory cortex. Part 2. Spatial normalization to standard anatomical space.

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Department of Neuroanatomy, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 40001, Germany.


Interindividual topographical variability of cytoarchitectonically defined somatosensory areas 3a, 3b, and 1 was analyzed in the standard anatomical format of a computerized brain atlas. T1-weighted magnetic resonance images were obtained from 10 postmortem brains. The brains were serially sectioned at 20 mcm, sections were stained for cell bodies, and areas 3a, 3b, and 1 were defined with an observer-independent cytoarchitectonic technique. After correction of the sections for deformations due to histological processing, the 3-D reconstructed histological volumes of the individual brains and the volume representations of the cytoarchitectonic areas were adapted to the reference brain of a computerized atlas. Corresponding areas were superimposed in the 3-D space of the reference brain. These population maps describe, for each voxel, how many brains have a representation of one particular cytoarchitectonic area. Each area's extent is very variable across different brains, but representations of areas 3a, 3b, and 1 in >/=50% of the brains were found in the fundus of the central sulcus, its caudal bank, and on the crown of the postcentral gyrus, respectively. Volumes of interest (VOIs) were defined for each area in which >/=50% of the brains have a representation of that area. Despite close spatial relationship of areas 3a, 3b, and 1 in the postcentral gyrus, the three VOIs overlap by <1% of their volumes. Functional imaging data can now be brought into the same standard anatomical format, and changes in regional cerebral blood flow can be calculated in VOIs of areas 3a, 3b, and 1, which are derived from genuine cytoarchitectonic data.

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