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J Comp Neurol. 1995 Jan 16;351(3):441-52.

Quantitative analysis of the columnar arrangement of neurons in the human cingulate cortex.

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Department of Neurology, Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, Germany.


The spatial organization of human cingulate (areas 24b, 23b, and 31) and pericingulate (areas 7 and 19) cortex was examined by using an image analyzer to measure characteristics of vertically oriented, translaminar columns of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Columns of 30-50 microns in diameter are hypothesized to be a general feature of cortical organization, but no quantitative analysis of different human cortical areas has been performed. Our results prove for the first time that a columnar organization was detectable in every area examined. The average width of cell columns was approximately 40 microns separated by a neuropil-rich fascicle of the same dimension. Because differences in the expression of a columnar organization were seen, the degree of columnization was subsequently expressed by a verticality index (VI) revealing specific changes in its dimension depending on the architectonic area. The VI was calculated by a linear combination of three variables derived from the measurement of cell density profiles in Nissl-stained sections at right angles to vertically oriented cell columns. Variables included the amplitude of profile peaks, the standard deviation of the width of those profile peaks, and the standard deviation of the distances between profile peaks. The index of verticality describes the deviation of a distinct area and layer from the mean degree of vertical organization of all cortical areas and layers examined. Thus, different degrees of columnar organization can be quantitatively described by the verticality index and can be used as criteria to characterize architectonic areas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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