A touch of hierarchy: population receptive fields reveal fingertip integration in Brodmann areas in human primary somatosensory cortex

W. Schellekens, M. Thio, S. Badde, J. Winawer, N. Ramsey, N. Petridou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Several neuroimaging studies have shown the somatotopy of body part representations in primary somatosensory cortex (S1), but the functional hierarchy of distinct subregions in human S1 has not been adequately addressed. The current study investigates the functional hierarchy of cyto-architectonically distinct regions, Brodmann areas BA3, BA1, and BA2, in human S1. During functional MRI experiments, we presented participants with vibrotactile stimulation of the fingertips at three different vibration frequencies. Using population Receptive Field (pRF) modeling of the fMRI BOLD activity, we identified the hand region in S1 and the somatotopy of the fingertips. For each voxel, the pRF center indicates the finger that most effectively drives the BOLD signal, and the pRF size measures the spatial somatic pooling of fingertips. We find a systematic relationship of pRF sizes from lower-order areas to higher-order areas. Specifically, we found that pRF sizes are smallest in BA3, increase slightly towards BA1, and are largest in BA2, paralleling the increase in visual receptive field size as one ascends the visual hierarchy. Additionally, we find that the time-to-peak of the hemodynamic response in BA3 is roughly 0.5 s earlier compared to BA1 and BA2, further supporting the notion of a functional hierarchy of subregions in S1. These results were obtained during stimulation of different mechanoreceptors, suggesting that different afferent fibers leading up to S1 feed into the same cortical hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2099-2112
Number of pages14
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Volume226
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • fMRI
  • Hierarchy
  • pRF
  • S1
  • Somatosensory
  • Vibrotactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology

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