The frontal pole has more expanded than any other part in the human brain as compared to our ancestors. It plays an important role for specifically human behavior and cognitive abilities, e.g. action selection ( Kovach et al., 2012). Evidence about divergent functions of its medial and lateral part has been provided, both in the healthy brain and in psychiatric disorders. The anatomical correlates of such functional segregation, however, are still unknown due to a lack of stereotaxic, microstructural maps obtained in a representative sample of brains. Here we show that the human frontopolar cortex consists of two cytoarchitectonically and functionally distinct areas: lateral frontopolar area 1 (Fp1) and medial frontopolar area 2 (Fp2). Based on observer-independent mapping in serial, cell-body stained sections of 10 brains, three-dimensional, probabilistic maps of areas Fp1 and Fp2 were created. They show, for each position of the reference space, the probability with which each area was found in a particular voxel. Applying these maps as seed regions for a meta-analysis revealed that Fp1 and Fp2 differentially contribute to functional networks: Fp1 was involved in cognition, working memory and perception, whereas Fp2 was part of brain networks underlying affective processing and social cognition. The present study thus disclosed cortical correlates of a functional segregation of the human frontopolar cortex. The probabilistic maps provide a sound anatomical basis for interpreting neuroimaging data in the living human brain, and open new perspectives for analyzing structure-function relationships in the prefrontal cortex. The new data will also serve as a starting point for further comparative studies between human and non-human primate brains. This allows finding similarities and differences in the organizational principles of the frontal lobe during evolution as neurobiological basis for our behavior and cognitive abilities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience