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The identification of specialized, functional regions of the human cortex is a vital precondition for neuroscience and clinical neurosurgery. Functional imaging modalities are used for their delineation in living subjects, but these methods rely on subject cooperation, and many regions of the human brain cannot be activated specifically. Diffusion tractography is a novel tool to identify such areas in the human brain, utilizing underlying white matter pathways to separate regions of differing specialization. We explore the reproducibility, generalizability and validity of diffusion tractography-based localization in four functional areas across subjects, timepoints and scanners, and validate findings against fMRI and post-mortem cytoarchitectonic data. With reproducibility across modalities, clustering methods, scanners, timepoints, and subjects in the order of 80-90%, we conclude that diffusion tractography represents a useful and objective tool for parcellation of the human cortex into functional regions, enabling studies into individual functional anatomy even when there are no specific activation paradigms available.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





204 - 211


Adult, Cerebral Cortex, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Female, Humans, Male, Observer Variation, Reproducibility of Results