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Cereb Cortex. 2008 Dec;18(12):2820-30. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn039. Epub 2008 Mar 27.

Functional lateralization of face, hand, and trunk representation in anatomically defined human somatosensory areas.

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Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Biophysik - Medizin (INB 3), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany.


We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and cytoarchitectonic probability maps to investigate the responsiveness of individual areas in the human primary and secondary somatosensory cortices to hand, face, or trunk stimulation of either body-side. A Bayesian modeling approach to quantify the probability of ipsilateral activations revealed that areas OP 1, OP 4, and OP 3 of the SII cortex as well as the trunk and face representations within all SI subareas (areas 3b, 1, and 2) show robust bilateral responses to unilateral stimulation. Such bilateral response properties are in good agreement with the transcallosal projections demonstrated for these areas in nonhuman primates and other mammals. In contrast, the SI hand region showed a different pattern. Whereas ipsilateral areas 3b and 1 were deactivated by tactile hand stimulation, particularly on the left, there was strong evidence for ipsilateral processing of information from the right hand in area 2. These results demonstrate not only the behavioral importance of the hand representation, but also suggest that area 2 may have particularly evolved to form the cortical substrate of these specialized demands, in line with recent studies on cortical evolution hypothesizing that area 2 has developed with increasing manual abilities in anthropoid primates featuring opposable thumbs.

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