Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Biology and Biomedical Sciences: Neurosciences


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Steven Petersen


Human behavior and cognition are largely supported by the cerebral cortex, a structure organized at many physical scales ranging from individual neurons up to distributed systems of multiple interconnected “functional areas”. Each functional area possesses a unique combination of inputs, outputs, and internal structure, and is thought to make a distinct contribution to information processing. Thus, the study of each area's normal function, developmental trajectory, and modified responses following loss or injury may greatly enhance our understanding of cognition. Indeed, one of the: often unsaid) overarching goals of functional neuroimaging is to use differential activity between conditions to identify specific information processing operations reflected in these functional areas. Unfortunately, delineating a complete collection of functional areas in any mammal, let alone non-invasively in humans, is not straightforward and currently incomplete. Correlations in spontaneous BOLD activity, often referred to as resting state functional connectivity: rs-fcMRI), are especially promising as a way to delineate functional areas since they localize differences in patterns of correlated activity across large expanses of cortex. Presented here is the exploration, development, initial application, and first order validation of rs-fcMRI mapping, the non-invasive delineation of putative functional areas and boundaries across the cortical surface in individual humans using rs-fcMRI. rs-fcMRI ‘contour’ maps can be created in individual subjects which delineate sharp transitions and stable locations in correlation patterns. Several of the strongest and most resilient of these features can be consistently detected both across time within subject, are comparable across subject, independent cohort, and scanner, and appear to represent known functional-anatomical divisions. An initial validation of rs-fcMRI mapping against task-related activity, finds consistency with task-related fMRI results for two separate tasks in two groups of subjects, as well as in individual data. These results provide a proof-of-concept for using rs-fcMRI mapping to describe a putative distribution of functional areas and boundaries within single individuals, as well as to potentially improve functional neuroimaging studies in basic, translational, and clinical settings through the independent delineation of functional areas that can be compared across subjects, groups, and studies.


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