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Journal Article

The organizational principles of de-differentiated topographic maps in somatosensory cortex


Hebart,  Martin N.
Max Planck Research Group Vision and Computational Cognition, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Liu, P., Chrysidou, A., Doehler, J., Hebart, M. N., Wolbers, T., & Kuehn, E. (2021). The organizational principles of de-differentiated topographic maps in somatosensory cortex. eLife, 10: e60090. doi:10.7554/eLife.60090.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-DE6C-6
Topographic maps are a fundamental feature of cortex architecture in the mammalian brain. One common theory is that the de-differentiation of topographic maps links to impairments in everyday behavior due to less precise functional map readouts. Here, we tested this theory by characterizing de-differentiated topographic maps in primary somatosensory cortex (SI) of younger and older adults by means of ultra-high resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging together with perceptual finger individuation and hand motor performance. Older adults' SI maps showed similar amplitude and size to younger adults' maps, but presented with less representational similarity between distant fingers. Larger population receptive field sizes in older adults' maps did not correlate with behavior, whereas reduced cortical distances between D2 and D3 related to worse finger individuation but better motor performance. Our data uncover the drawbacks of a simple de-differentiation model of topographic map function, and motivate the introduction of feature-based models of cortical reorganization.