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Neuroimage. 2011 Aug 1;57(3):938-49. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.05.021. Epub 2011 May 14.

Co-activation patterns distinguish cortical modules, their connectivity and functional differentiation.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.


The organization of the cerebral cortex into distinct modules may be described along several dimensions, most importantly, structure, connectivity and function. Identification of cortical modules by differences in whole-brain connectivity profiles derived from diffusion tensor imaging or resting state correlations has already been shown. These approaches, however, carry no task-related information. Hence, inference on the functional relevance of the ensuing parcellation remains tentative. Here, we demonstrate, that Meta-Analytic Connectivity Modeling (MACM) allows the delineation of cortical modules based on their whole-brain co-activation pattern across databased neuroimaging results. Using a model free approach, two regions of the medial pre-motor cortex, SMA and pre-SMA were differentiated solely based on their functional connectivity. Assessing the behavioral domain and paradigm class meta-data of the experiments associated with the clusters derived from the co-activation based parcellation moreover allows the identification of their functional characteristics. The ensuing hypotheses about functional differentiation and distinct functional connectivity between pre-SMA and SMA were then explicitly tested and confirmed in independent datasets using functional and resting state fMRI. Co-activation based parcellation thus provides a new perspective for identifying modules of functional connectivity and linking them to functional properties, hereby generating new and subsequently testable hypotheses about the organization of cortical modules.

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