Brodmann divided the neocortex into 47 different cortical areas based on histological differences in laminar myeloarchitectonic and cytoarchitectonic defined structure. The ability to do so in vivo with anatomical magnetic resonance (MR) methods in awake subjects would be extremely advantageous for many functional studies. However, due to the limitations of spatial resolution and contrast, this has been difficult to achieve in awake subjects. Here, we report that by using a combination of MR microscopy and novel contrast effects, cortical layers can be delineated in the visual cortex of awake subjects (nonhuman primates) at 4.7 T. We obtained data from 30-min acquisitions at voxel size of 62.5 × 62.5 × 1000 μm(3) (4 nl). Both the phase and magnitude components of the T(2)*-weighted image were used to generate laminar profiles which are believed to reflect variations in myelin and local cell density content across cortical depth. Based on this, we were able to identify six layers characteristic of the striate cortex (V1). These were the stripe of Kaes-Bechterew (in layer II/III), the stripe of Gennari (in layer IV), the inner band of Baillarger (in layer V), as well as three sub-layers within layer IV (IVa, IVb, and IVc). Furthermore, we found that the laminar structure of two extrastriate visual cortex (V2, V4) can also be detected. Following the tradition of Brodmann, this significant improvement in cortical laminar visualization should make it possible to discriminate cortical regions in awake subjects corresponding to differences in myeloarchitecture and cytoarchitecture.
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