-“You can’t understand human function without knowing Anatomy first,” used to say Dr. Alberto Poli, one of my cherished professors at the UNLP School of Medicine as he was dissecting a cadaver in front of his pupils.

For almost two centuries neuroanatomists have been studying the different regions of the brain, trying to correlate certain areas with specific functions. In 1909 Korbinian Brodman, a German neuroanatomist, examined the histologically stained cells in the postmortem human brain tissue to design a pioneering map of the human cortex that contained almost 50 specific areas.

MF Glasser et al., a team of neuroscientists at the Washington University School of Medicine, combined the imaging data from hundreds of healthy, young men and women to map out different areas of the cerebral cortex. Their areas are more clearly delineated because they meshed the data from measurements of myelin content with the one provided by the images of Magnetic Resonance scans of the brains when individuals performed tasks.

This data is part of a larger project called “Human Connectome Project” (HCP), which has been gathering data from more than 1,000 individuals. The new dataset was made freely available in the Internet for others to use.

The latest study used precisely aligned data from 210 individuals related to the amount of myelin in the cerebral cortex, the thickness of the cortex and how the brain responds both in a resting state and after certain stimulations.

After amassing this wealth of neuroanatomical data, the investigators went back to the medical literature to compare their results. According to Dr. Glasser, 83 areas had been previously identified while 93 were totally new. Their technique enables to map diseased brains in order to get clinical utility.

One of the new discoveries was a particular area dubbed as 55b—a lightly myelinated area surrounded by areas of higher myelination, identified 50 years ago—which was activated when the individual was listening to a story. AHA…The same area that lights up when humans pay attention to us bards.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

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