Mapping Cortical Laminar Structure in the 3D BigBrain.

05 Jun 2018

Histological sections offer high spatial resolution to examine laminar architecture of the human cerebral cortex; however, they are restricted by being 2D, hence only regions with sufficiently optimal cutting planes can be analyzed. Conversely, noninvasive neuroimaging approaches are whole brain but have relatively low resolution. Consequently, correct 3D cross-cortical patterns of laminar architecture have never been mapped in histological sections. We developed an automated technique to identify and analyze laminar structure within the high-resolution 3D histological BigBrain. We extracted white matter and pial surfaces, from which we derived histologically verified surfaces at the layer I/II boundary and within layer IV. Layer IV depth was strongly predicted by cortical curvature but varied between areas. This fully automated 3D laminar analysis is an important requirement for bridging high-resolution 2D cytoarchitecture and in vivo 3D neuroimaging. It lays the foundation for in-depth, whole-brain analyses of cortical layering.