Human finger somatotopy in areas 3b, 1, and 2: A 7T fMRI study using a natural stimulus

To study the properties of human primary somatosensory (S1) cortex as well as its role in cognitive and social processes, it is necessary to noninvasively localize the cortical representations of the body. Being arguably the most relevant body parts for tactile exploration, cortical representations of fingers are of particular interest. The aim of the present study was to investigate the cortical representation of individual fingers (D1-D5), using human touch as a stimulus. Utilizing the high BOLD sensitivity and spatial resolution at 7T, we found that each finger is represented within three subregions of S1 in the postcentral gyrus. Within each of these three areas, the fingers are sequentially organized (from D1 to D5) in a somatotopic manner. Therefore, these finger representations likely reflect distinct activations of BAs 3b, 1, and 2, similar to those described in electrophysiological work in non-human primates. Quantitative analysis of the local BOLD responses revealed that within BA3b, each finger representation is specific to its own stimulation without any cross-finger responsiveness. This finger response selectivity was less prominent in BA 1 and in BA 2. A test-retest procedure highlighted the reproducibility of the results and the robustness of the method for BA 3b. Finally, the representation of the thumb was enlarged compared to the other fingers within BAs 1 and 2. These findings extend previous human electrophysiological and neuroimaging data but also reveal differences in the functional organization of S1 in human and nonhuman primates. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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Human brain mapping, 35, 1, 213-226
Hoboken, Wiley-Blackwell

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