Available only for arXiv papers.
The brainstem is a fundamental component of the central nervous system yet it is typically excluded from in vivo human brain mapping efforts, precluding a complete understanding of how the brainstem influences cortical function. Here we use high-resolution 7 Tesla fMRI to derive a functional connectome encompassing cortex as well as 58 brainstem nuclei spanning the midbrain, pons and medulla. We identify a compact set of integrative hubs in the brainstem with widespread connectivity with cerebral cortex. Patterns of connectivity between brainstem and cerebral cortex manifest as multiple emergent phenomena including neurophysiological oscillatory rhythms, patterns of cognitive functional specialization, and the unimodal-transmodal functional hierarchy. This persistent alignment between cortical functional topographies and brainstem nuclei is shaped by the spatial arrangement of multiple neurotransmitter receptors and transporters. We replicate all findings using 3 Tesla data from the same participants. Collectively, we find that multiple organizational features of cortical activity can be traced back to the brainstem.