Understanding the function of brain regions and brain networks

Michael Anderson, Josh Kinnison and I have just published a paper in Neuroimage describing a framework for capturing a brain region’s functional fingerprint, in addition to the fingerprint an entire network of brain regions. These are computed based on studies published in the BrainMap database and provide an estimate of the functional repertoire of a given brain region/network. For example, here’s the fingerprint of the dorsal ACC:

Functional fingerprint of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. The red and blue lines represent the uncertainty range of our estimate).

Functional fingerprint of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. The red and blue lines represent the uncertainty range of our estimate.

The framework allows the quantification of functional diversity (captured via Shannon’s entropy) in a voxelwise manner (by moving a 10-mm radius “spotlight” around). We found that most brain regions had diverse functional profiles, though diversity varied considerably across the brain (below, the zones in red are the most diverse):

Voxelwise functional diversity.

Voxelwise functional diversity.

The functional profiles of brain networks can also be characterized, such as the one of the “ventral attention network”:

Functional fingerprint of the ventral attention network.

Functional fingerprint of the ventral attention network.

Our study thus allowed us to characterize the contributions of individual brain regions and networks of brain regions without using singular task- or role-bound functional attributions.

Here’s the reference in case you have problems with the PDF link:

Anderson, M. L., Kinnison, J., & Pessoa, L. (2013). Describing functional diversity of brain regions and brain networks. NeuroImage, 73, 50–58.