Ventral visual cortex in humans: Cytoarchitectonic mapping of two extrastriate areas



The extrastriate visual cortex forms a complex system enabling the analysis of visually presented objects. To gain deeper insight into the anatomical basis of this system, we cytoarchitectonically mapped the ventral occipital cortex lateral to BA 18/V2 in 10 human postmortem brains. The anatomical characterization of this part of the ventral stream was performed by examination of cell-body-stained histological sections using quantitative cytoarchitectonic analysis. First, the gray level index (GLI) was measured in the ventral occipital lobe. Cytoarchitectonic borders, i.e., significant changes in the cortical lamination pattern, were then identified using an observer-independent algorithm based on multivariate analysis of GLI profiles. Two distinct cytoarchitectonic areas (hOC3v, hOC4v) were characterized in the ventral extrastriate cortex lateral to BA 18/V2. Area hOC3v was found in the collateral sulcus. hOC4v was located in this sulcus and also covered the fusiform gyrus in more occipital sections. Topographically, these areas thus seem to represent the anatomical substrates of functionally defined areas, VP/V3v and V4/V4v. Following histological analysis, the delineated cytoarchitectonic areas were transferred to 3D reconstructions of the respective postmortem brains, which in turn were spatially normalized to the Montreal Neurological Institute reference space. A probabilistic map was generated for each area which describes how many brains had a representation of this area in a particular voxel. These maps can now be used to identify the anatomical correlates of functional activations observed in neuroimaging experiments to enable a more informed investigation into the many open questions regarding the organization of the human visual cortex. Hum Brain Mapp 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.