Several functional brain imaging techniques have been used to study human cortical organization. Optical imaging of intrinsic signals (OIS) offers perhaps the best combination of spatial coverage, resolution and speed for mapping the functional topography of human cortex. In this review, we discuss recent advances in optical imaging technology and methodology that have made human OIS easier to implement and more accessible, including improvements in detector characteristics and the development of sophisticated algorithms for reducing motion artifact. Moreover, we discuss how these advances have helped enhance our understanding of the functional organization of the human brain. We also review newly developed analyses for interpreting and validating optical signals, including refined signal analysis techniques and multimodality comparisons. Combined, these advances have enabled the study of not only primary sensory and motor cortices, but also higher cognitive processes such as language production and comprehension. Continued improvement and implementation of this technique promises to shed new light on the functional organization of human cortex.
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