Mapping neurotransmitter systems to the structural and functional organization of the human neocortex

Justine Y. Hansen, Golia Shafiei, Ross D. Markello, Kelly Smart, Sylvia M.L. Cox, Martin Nørgaard, Vincent Beliveau, Yanjun Wu, Jean Dominique Gallezot, Étienne Aumont, Stijn Servaes, Stephanie G. Scala, Jonathan M. DuBois, Gabriel Wainstein, Gleb Bezgin, Thomas Funck, Taylor W. Schmitz, R. Nathan Spreng, Marian Galovic, Matthias J. KoeppJohn S. Duncan, Jonathan P. Coles, Tim D. Fryer, Franklin I. Aigbirhio, Colm J. McGinnity, Alexander Hammers, Jean Paul Soucy, Sylvain Baillet, Synthia Guimond, Jarmo Hietala, Marc André Bedard, Marco Leyton, Eliane Kobayashi, Pedro Rosa-Neto, Melanie Ganz, Gitte M. Knudsen, Nicola Palomero-Gallagher, James M. Shine, Richard E. Carson, Lauri Tuominen, Alain Dagher, Bratislav Misic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Neurotransmitter receptors support the propagation of signals in the human brain. How receptor systems are situated within macro-scale neuroanatomy and how they shape emergent function remain poorly understood, and there exists no comprehensive atlas of receptors. Here we collate positron emission tomography data from more than 1,200 healthy individuals to construct a whole-brain three-dimensional normative atlas of 19 receptors and transporters across nine different neurotransmitter systems. We found that receptor profiles align with structural connectivity and mediate function, including neurophysiological oscillatory dynamics and resting-state hemodynamic functional connectivity. Using the Neurosynth cognitive atlas, we uncovered a topographic gradient of overlapping receptor distributions that separates extrinsic and intrinsic psychological processes. Finally, we found both expected and novel associations between receptor distributions and cortical abnormality patterns across 13 disorders. We replicated all findings in an independently collected autoradiography dataset. This work demonstrates how chemoarchitecture shapes brain structure and function, providing a new direction for studying multi-scale brain organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1569-1581
Number of pages13
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number11
Early online date27 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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