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Cereb Cortex. 2017 Aug 1;27(8):4033-4047. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw215.

Rostro-caudal Architecture of the Frontal Lobes in Humans.

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Brain Connectivity and Behaviour Group, Brain and Spine Institute, Paris, France.
Frontlab, Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), UPMC UMRS 1127, Inserm U 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, Paris, France.
Centre de Neuroimagerie de Recherche CENIR, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.
Service de Médecine et de Réadaptation, Hôpitaux de Saint-Maurice, Saint-Maurice, France.


The nature of the inputs and outputs of a brain region defines its functional specialization. The frontal portion of the brain is essential for goal-directed behaviors, however, the biological basis for its functional organization is unknown. Here, exploring structural connectomic properties, we delineated 12 frontal areas, defined by the pattern of their white matter connections. This result was highly reproducible across neuroimaging centers, acquisition parameters, and participants. These areas corresponded to regions functionally engaged in specific tasks, organized along a rostro-caudal axis from the most complex high-order association areas to the simplest idiotopic areas. The rostro-caudal axis along which the 12 regions were organized also reflected a gradient of cortical thickness, myelination, and cell body density. Importantly, across the identified regions, this gradient of microstructural features was strongly associated with the varying degree of information processing complexity. These new anatomical signatures shed light onto the structural organization of the frontal lobes and could help strengthen the prediction or diagnosis of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.


anatomy; cytoarchitecture; frontal lobes; myeloarchitecture; tractography

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