Santa Lucia - Neurosciences and Rehabilitation Sapienza University of Rome

Neuroimage. 2019 Nov 15;202:116092. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116092

A putative human homologue of the macaque area PEc

The cortical area PEc is anatomically and functionally well-defined in macaque, but it is unknown whether it has a counterpart in human. Since we know that macaque PEc, but not the nearby posterior regions, hosts a lower limb representation, in an attempt to recognize a possible human PEc we looked for the existence of leg representations in the human parietal cortex using individual cortical surface-based analysis, task-evoked paradigms and resting-state functional connectivity. fMRI images were acquired while thirty-one participants performed long-range leg movements through an in-house MRI-compatible set-up. We revealed the existence of multiple leg representations in the human dorsomedial parietal cortex, here defined as S-I (somatosensory-I), hPE (human PE, in the postcentral sulcus), and hPEc (human PEc, in the anterior precuneus). Among the three "leg" regions, hPEc had a unique functional profile, in that it was the only one responding to both arm and leg movements, to both hand-pointing and foot pointing movements, and to flow field visual stimulation, very similar to macaque area PEc. In addition, hPEc showed functional connections with the somatomotor regions hosting a lower limb representation, again as in macaque area PEc. Therefore, based on similarity in brain position, functional organization, cortical connections, and relationship with the neighboring areas, we propose that this cortical region is the human homologue of macaque area PEc.

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