Conclusion

The importance of anatomy is indisputable, since the study of function isolated from structure loses its meaning. Macroscopic anatomy can be considered as a confound that blurs the information obtained from microscopic or functional studies, but can also be viewed as a very useful and promising tool at many different levels of functional image analysis. In fact, anatomy can be seen as a generic framework for any approach to brain functions and can be used as a common language for different disciplines. Its utilization encompasses cerebral localization in individual subjects, but also enters (even if neglected by some authors) into the process of averaging across subjects. Much remains to be done to reexamine cerebral anatomy using the new tools now available in the domains of image processing. A first step would be standardization of the descriptive part of cerebral cortical anatomy and the development of tools such as those for the automatic three-dimensional segmentation of the constant landmarks, work currently under development for constant sulci [50, 51]. A second step would concern the construction of three-dimensional probabilistic sulcal and gyral maps that could serve as gold standards for localization. Finally, a third point to be investigated concerns the validation of methods used for averaging different brains. Given that increasingly flexible spatial transformation models are being used to map three-dimensional brain images into a common space, the effect of such powerful image deformations on the macroscopic anatomy remains a crucial unanswered question.

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