We used ultra-high field (7 T) fMRI and parallel imaging to scan the superior parietal lobule (SPL) of human subjects as they mentally traversed a maze path in one of four directions (up, down, left, right). A counterbalanced design for maze presentation and a quasi-isotropic voxel (1.46 × 1.46 × 2 mm thick) collection were implemented. Fifty-one percent of single voxels in the SPL were tuned to the direction of the maze path. Tuned voxels were distributed throughout the SPL, bilaterally. A nearest neighbor analysis revealed a "honeycomb" arrangement such that voxels tuned to a particular direction tended to occur in clusters. Three-dimensional (3D) directional clusters were identified in SPL as oriented centroids traversing the cortical depth. There were 13 same-direction clusters per hemisphere containing 22 voxels per cluster, on the average; the mean nearest-neighbor, same-direction intercluster distance was 9.4 mm. These results provide a much finer detail of the directional tuning in SPL, as compared to those obtained previously at 4 T (Gourtzelidis et al. Exp Brain Res 165:273-282, 2005). The more accurate estimates of quantitative clustering parameters in 3D brain space in this study were made possible by the higher signal-to-noise and contrast-to-noise ratios afforded by the higher magnetic field of 7 T as well as the quasi-isotropic design of voxel data collection.
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Acknowledgments We thank Dr. Cheryl Olman for assistance with motion correction. This work was supported by NIH RR08079, BTRR P41 008079, Neuroscience P30 NS057091, the MIND Institute, the KECK Foundation, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Legion Chair in Brain Sciences.
- Directional tuning
- Parallel imaging
- Spatial cognition
- Superior parietal lobule
- Ultra-high field fMRI