Metrics for Cortical Map Organization and Lateralization
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 60 (1998), 27-47

Sergio A. Alvarez

Center for Nonlinear Analysis and
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

Svetlana Levitan, James A. Reggia

Department of Computer Science and
Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742


Cerebral lateralization refers to the poorly understood fact that some functions are better controlled by one side of the brain than the other (e.g. handedness, language). Of particular concern here are the asymmetries apparent in cortical topographic maps that can be demonstrated electrophysiologically in mirror-image locations of the cerebral cortex. In spite of great interest in issues surrounding cerebral lateralization, methods for measuring the degree of organization and asymmetry in cortical maps are currently quite limited. In this paper, several measures are developed and used to assess the degree of organization, lateralization, and mirror symmetry in topographic map formation. These measures correct for large constant displacements as well as curving of maps. The behavior of the measures is tested on several topographic maps obtained by self-organization of an initially random artificial neural network model of a bihemispheric brain, and the results are compared with subjective assessments made by humans.