Multimodal gradients across mouse cortex

Ben D. Fulcher, John D. Murray, Valerio Zerbi, Xiao Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primate cerebral cortex displays a hierarchy that extends from primary sensorimotor to association areas, supporting increasingly integrated function underpinned by a gradient of heterogeneity in the brain’s microcircuits. The extent to which these hierarchical gradients are unique to primate or may reflect a conserved mammalian principle of brain organization remains unknown. Here we report the topographic similarity of large-scale gradients in cytoarchitecture, gene expression, interneuron cell densities, and long-range axonal connectivity, which vary from primary sensory to prefrontal areas of mouse cortex, highlighting an underappreciated spatial dimension of mouse cortical specialization. Using the T1-weighted:T2-weighted (T1w:T2w) magnetic resonance imaging map as a common spatial reference for comparison across species, we report interspecies agreement in a range of large-scale cortical gradients, including a significant correspondence between gene transcriptional maps in mouse cortex with their human orthologs in human cortex, as well as notable interspecies differences. Our results support the view of systematic structural variation across cortical areas as a core organizational principle that may underlie hierarchical specialization in mammalian brains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4689-4695
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cortical gradients
  • Cortical hierarchy
  • Gene expression
  • Interspecies comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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