Zeynep M Saygin, David E Osher, Kami Koldewyn, Gretchen Reynolds, John D E Gabrieli & Rebecca R Saxe 2011
Anatomical Connectivity Patterns predict face selectivity in the fusiform gyrus
For more than a decade, neuroscientists have known that many of the cells in a brain region called the fusiform gyrus specialize in recognizing faces. However, those cells don’t act alone: They need to communicate with several other parts of the brain. By tracing those connections, MIT neuroscientists have now shown that they can accurately predict which parts of the fusiform gyrus are face-selective.Read the article
A fundamental assumption in neuroscience is that function is deeply rooted in anatomical structure, such as extrinsic connectivity. A region’s connectivity pattern determines both the information available as inputs from other regions and its output and influence on other areas. Indeed, changes in connectivity have been shown to occur at the boundaries of functionally defined regions that can be identified through cytoarchitectonics (supplementary motor area versus pre-supplementary motor area)1. If anatomical connectivity is important for functional operations, then variation in connectivity should correspond with and predict variation in function, even in regions that are not at present anatomically definable or not spatially consistent across the population. This intuitive claim has not yet been formally explored, though various frameworks for such an analysis have been suggested.
In the absence of any extra information, can structural connectivity accurately predict the location and degree of the functional response in the brain? The extrinsic connectivity pattern of a structure may contain sufficient information to predict the extent to which each voxel will respond to a given functional contrast. This hypothesis could be tested using a functional contrast that consistently elicits robust responses, and constrained to an anatomical structure that reliably encapsulates such responses across participants, even if they vary spatially within the region.