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Neuropsychologia. 1991;29(6):539-55.

Mapping the functional neuroanatomy of the intact human brain with brain work imaging.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892.


The recent development of noninvasive methods for measuring local rates of energy metabolism or blood flow in the brain has made it possible to investigate functional neuroanatomy in healthy human subjects. The best of these methods, high resolution measurement of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) with positron emission tomography (PET), provides a precision of anatomical localization that far exceeds that attainable with human brain lesion studies. Moreover, the study of healthy subjects avoids possible confounding effects of brain lesions, such as compensatory reorganization of brain function. PET-rCBF studies have already identified several cortical areas involved in higher-order visual processing, indicating that functional neuroimaging may yield a map of human visual cortex analogous to maps that have been developed by vision research in nonhuman primates. PET-rCBF studies of imagery and language demonstrate the potential of functional neuroimaging to map regions of human cortex that perform functions that cannot be studied so easily in nonhuman primates or perform functions that humans do not share with other species.

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