Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
AMPRONIX
SCHILLER AG
TERARECON, INC.

Imaging Shows Unique Brain Region Tied to Higher Cognitive Abilities

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 18 Feb 2014
Image: An area (red) of the brain that seems to be unique to humans (Photo courtesy of the University of Oxford).
Image: An area (red) of the brain that seems to be unique to humans (Photo courtesy of the University of Oxford).
British researchers have pinpointed an area of the human brain that appears unlike anything in the brains of some of human’s closest relatives. The brain area identified is known to be closely involved in some of the most advanced planning and decision-making processes that people think of as being expressly human.

“We tend to think that being able to plan into the future, be flexible in our approach and learn from others are things that are particularly impressive about humans. We’ve identified an area of the brain that appears to be uniquely human and is likely to have something to do with these cognitive powers,” said senior researcher Prof. Matthew Rushworth , from the department of experimental psychology at Oxford University’s (UK).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) imaging of 25 adult volunteers was used to identify key components in the ventrolateral frontal cortex area of the human brain, and map how these components were connected up with other brain areas. The findings were then compared to equivalent MRI data from 25 macaque monkeys.

Involved in many of the highest facets of cognition and language, the ventrolateral frontal cortex region of the brain is only present in humans and other primates. Some areas are implicated in psychiatric conditions such as drug addiction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or compulsive behavior disorders. Language is affected when other areas are damaged after stroke or neurodegenerative disease. A better determination of the neural connections and networks involved should help the understanding of alterations in the brain that are linked with these disorders.

The Oxford University researchers reported their findings February 5, 2014, in the journal Neuron. Prof. Rushworth clarified, “The brain is a mosaic of interlinked areas. We wanted to look at this very important region of the frontal part of the brain and see how many tiles there are and where they are placed. We also looked at the connections of each tile—how they are wired up to the rest of the brain—as it is these connections that determine the information that can reach that component part and the influence that part can have on other brain regions.”

The researchers, utilizing the MRI data, were able to divide the human ventrolateral frontal cortex into 12 areas that were consistent across all the individuals. “Each of these 12 areas has its own pattern of connections with the rest of the brain, a sort of ‘neural fingerprint,’ telling us it is doing something unique,” said Prof. Rushworth.

The researchers were then able to compare the 12 areas in the human brain region with the organization of the monkey prefrontal cortex. Overall, they were very similar with 11 of the 12 areas being found in both species and being connected up to other brain areas in very similar ways. However, one area of the human ventrolateral frontal cortex had no corresponding area in the macaque—a region called the lateral frontal pole prefrontal cortex. “We have established an area in human frontal cortex which does not seem to have an equivalent in the monkey at all,” stated first author Oxford’s Franz-Xaver Neubert. “This area has been identified with strategic planning and decision making as well as multitasking.”

Moreover, the researchers revealed that the auditory areas of the brain were very well connected with the human prefrontal cortex, but much less so in the macaque. The researchers suggest this may be essential for our ability to understand and generate speech.

Related Links:

Oxford University



RADCAL
RTI ELECTRONICS AB
SuperSonic Imagine

Channels

Radiography

view channel

Leading Cancer Center Among First in Europe to Treat Patients Using Robotic Patient-Positioning Radiotherapy Couch

A Viennese hospital has become one of the first oncology departments in Europe to introduce clinical treatments using a robotic radiotherapy patient-positioning couch. Kaiser-Franz-Josef Hospital (KFJ; Vienna, Austria) has introduced this enhanced patient positioning device, which enables more flexibility during radiotherapy... Read more

Ultrasound

view channel
Image: Very high magnification micrograph of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma showing the characteristic laminated fibrosis between the tumor cells with a low N/C ratio. H&E stain (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Hepatocellular Carcinoma Screening Linked with Curative Treatment and Longer Survival in Cirrhosis Patients

Investigators discovered that patients with cirrhosis who underwent surveillance (using liver ultrasound with or without measurement of serum alpha fetoprotein) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) had cancers... Read more

Nuclear medicine

view channel
Image: Micrograph of Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymph node fine-needle aspiration (FNA) specimen. Field stain (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Early PET-Negative Stage I/II Hodgkin Lymphoma Patients Show Increased Risk of Early Relapse when Radiotherapy Is Not Used

Analysis of a new study indicates an increased risk of early relapse when excluding radiotherapy in early positron emission tomography (PET) scan-negative patients with stage I/II Hodgkin’s lymphoma.... Read more

General/Advanced Imaging

view channel

Secondary Light Emission Generated by Plasmonic Nanostructures May Improve Medical Imaging Technology

New clues into light emission at different wavelengths generated by elements known plasmonic nanostructures may help to improve medical imaging technology. A plasmon is a quantum of plasma oscillation. The plasmon is a quasiparticle resulting from the quantization of plasma oscillations just as photons, and phonons are... Read more

Imaging IT

view channel

Enterprise Image-Viewing System Receives FDA Clearance for Mobile Diagnosis on All Modalities

An enterprise image-viewing system is now cleared in the United States for diagnosis on mobile devices, for all imaging modalities (except mammography). Calgary Scientific, Inc. (Calgary, AB, USA) recently reported their latest Class II clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Calgary Scientific worked... Read more

Industry News

view channel

Collaboration Expands Capacity for Proton Therapy Clinical Research and Patient Treatments

Varian Medical Systems (Palo Alto, CA, USA) and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI; Villigen PSI, Switzerland) are extending an existing collaboration in the field of proton therapy to offer patients more accurate cancer treatments using intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT). Under the agreement, Varian will also... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2014 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.