Dense amnesia can result from damage to the medial diencephalon in humans and in animals. In humans this damage is diffuse and can include the mediodorsal nuclei of the thalamus. In animal models, lesion studies have confirmed the mediodorsal thalamus (MD) has a role in memory and other cognitive tasks, although the extent of deficits is mixed. Anatomical tracing studies confirm at least three different subgroupings of the MD: medial, central, and lateral, each differentially interconnected to the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Moreover, these subgroupings of the MD also receive differing inputs from other brain structures, including the basal ganglia thus the MD subgroupings form key nodes in interconnected frontal-striatal-thalamic neural circuits, integrating critical information within the PFC. We will provide a review of data collected from non-human primates and rodents after selective brain injury to the whole of the MD as well as these subgroupings to highlight the extent of deficits in various cognitive tasks. This research highlights the neural basis of memory and cognitive deficits associated with the subgroupings of the MD and their interconnected neural networks. The evidence shows that the MD plays a critical role in many varied cognitive processes. In addition, the MD is actively processing information and integrating it across these neural circuits for successful cognition. Having established that the MD is critical for memory and cognition, further research is required to understand how the MD specifically influences these cognitive processing carried out by the brain.
prefrontal cortex; memory; executive function; macaque; rodent; animal models; learning
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is implicated in a variety of cognitive and executive operations. However, this region is not a single functional unit; rather, it is composed of several functionally and anatomically distinct networks, including anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). These prefrontal subregions serve dissociable behavioral functions, and are unique in their afferent and efferent connections. Each of these subregions is innervated by ascending cholinergic and noradrenergic systems, each of which likewise has a distinct role in cognitive function; yet the distribution and projection patterns of cells in the source nuclei for these pathways have not been examined in great detail. In this study, fluorescent retrograde tracers were injected into ACC, mPFC, and OFC, and labeled cells were identified in the cholinergic nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) and noradrenergic nucleus locus coeruleus (LC). Injections into all three cortical regions consistently labeled cells primarily ipsilateral to the injection site with a minimal contralateral component. In NBM, retrogradely labeled neurons were scattered throughout the rostral half of the nucleus, whereas those in LC tended to cluster in the core of the nucleus, and were rarely localized within the rostral or caudal poles. In NBM, more than half of all retrogradely labeled cells possessed axon collaterals projecting two or more PFC subregions. In LC, however, only 4.3% of retrogradely labeled neurons possessed collaterals targeting any two prefrontal subregions simultaneously, and no cells were identified that projected to all three regions. Of all labeled LC neurons, 49.3% projected only to mPFC, 28.5% projected only to OFC, and 18.0% projected only to ACC. These findings suggest that subsets of LC neurons may be capable of modulating neuronal activity in individual prefrontal subregions independently, whereas assemblies of NBM cells may exert a more unified influence on the three areas, simultaneously. This work emphasizes unique aspects of the cholinergic and noradrenergic projections to functionally and anatomically distinct subregions of PFC and provides insights regarding global versus segregated regulation of prefrontal operations by these neuromodulatory pathways.
orbitofrontal cortex; medial prefrontal cortex; anterior cingulate cortex; nucleus basalis of Meynert; locus coeruleus; prefrontal cortex; norepinephrine; acetylcholine
Vulnerability to drug abuse is related to both reward seeking and impulsivity, two constructs thought to have a biological basis in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This review addresses similarities and differences in neuroanatomy, neurochemistry and behavior associated with PFC function in rodents and primates. Emphasis is placed on monoamine and amino acid neurotransmitter systems located in anatomically distinct subregions: medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC); lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC); anterior cingulate cortex (ACC); and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). While there are complex interconnections and overlapping functions among these regions, each is thought to be involved in various functions related to health-related risk behaviors and drug abuse vulnerability. Among the various functions implicated, evidence suggests that mPFC is involved in reward processing, attention and drug reinstatement; lPFC is involved in decision-making, behavioral inhibition and attentional gating; ACC is involved in attention, emotional processing and self-monitoring; and OFC is involved in behavioral inhibition, signaling of expected outcomes and reward/punishment sensitivity. Individual differences factors (e.g., age and sex) influence functioning of these regions, which, in turn, impacts drug abuse vulnerability. Implications for the development of drug abuse prevention and treatment strategies aimed at engaging PFC inhibitory processes that may reduce risk-related behaviors are discussed, including the design of effective public service announcements, cognitive exercises, physical activity, direct current stimulation, feedback control training and pharmacotherapies. A major challenge in drug abuse prevention and treatment rests with improving intervention strategies aimed at strengthening PFC inhibitory systems among at-risk individuals.
Anterior cingulate cortex; Dopamine; Drug abuse; GABA; Glutamate; Impulsivity; Lateral prefrontal cortex; Medial prefrontal cortex; Norepinephrine; Orbitofrontal cortex; Serotonin
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory neurological condition characterized by focal and diffuse neurodegeneration and demyelination throughout the central nervous system. Factors influencing the progression of pathology are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that anatomical connectivity influences the spread of neurodegeneration. This predicts that measures of neurodegeneration will correlate most strongly between interconnected structures. However, such patterns have been difficult to quantify through post-mortem neuropathology or in vivo scanning alone. In this study, we used the complementary approaches of whole brain post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging and quantitative histology to assess patterns of multiple sclerosis pathology. Two thalamo-cortical projection systems were considered based on their distinct neuroanatomy and their documented involvement in multiple sclerosis: lateral geniculate nucleus to primary visual cortex and mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus to prefrontal cortex. Within the anatomically distinct thalamo-cortical projection systems, magnetic resonance imaging derived cortical thickness was correlated significantly with both a measure of myelination in the connected tract and a measure of connected thalamic nucleus cell density. Such correlations did not exist between these markers of neurodegeneration across different thalamo-cortical systems. Magnetic resonance imaging lesion analysis depicted clearly demarcated subcortical lesions impinging on the white matter tracts of interest; however, quantitation of the extent of lesion-tract overlap failed to demonstrate any appreciable association with the severity of markers of diffuse pathology within each thalamo-cortical projection system. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging metrics in both white matter tracts were correlated significantly with a histologically derived measure of tract myelination. These data demonstrate for the first time the relevance of functional anatomical connectivity to the spread of multiple sclerosis pathology in a ‘tract-specific’ pattern. Furthermore, the persisting relationship between metrics from post-mortem diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and histological measures from fixed tissue further validates the potential of imaging for future neuropathological studies.
multiple sclerosis; post-mortem imaging; diffusion imaging; white matter tracts; neurodegeneration
Converging evidence from anatomic and physiologic studies suggests that the interaction of high-order association cortices with the thalamus is necessary to focus attention on a task in a complex environment with multiple distractions. Interposed between the thalamus and cortex, the inhibitory thalamic reticular nucleus intercepts and regulates communication between the two structures. Recent findings demonstrate that a unique circuitry links the prefrontal cortex with the reticular nucleus and may underlie the process of selective attention to enhance salient stimuli and suppress irrelevant stimuli in behavior. Unlike other cortices, some prefrontal areas issue widespread projections to the reticular nucleus, extending beyond the frontal sector to the sensory sectors of the nucleus and may influence the flow of sensory information from the thalamus to the cortex. Unlike other thalamic nuclei, the mediodorsal nucleus, which is the principal thalamic nucleus for the prefrontal cortex, has similarly widespread connections with the reticular nucleus. Unlike sensory association cortices, some terminations from prefrontal areas to the reticular nucleus are large, suggesting efficient transfer of information. We propose a model showing that the specialized features of prefrontal pathways in the reticular nucleus may allow selection of relevant information and override distractors, in processes that are deranged in schizophrenia.
corticothalamic projections; dual mode of termination; drivers and modulators; inhibitory control; overlap of terminations; mediodorsal nucleus; association cortices
To delineate the cellular mechanisms underlying the function of medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) networks, it is critical to understand how synaptic inputs from various afferents are integrated and drive neuronal activity in this region. Using a newly developed slice preparation, we were able to identify a bundle of axons that contain extraneocortical fibers projecting to neurons in the prelimbic cortex. The anatomical origin and functional connectivity of the identified fiber bundle were probed by in vivo track tracing in combination with optic and whole-cell recordings of neurons in layers 2/3 and 5/6. We demonstrate that the identified bundle contains afferent fibers primarily from the ventral hippocampus but does not include contributions from the mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus, amygdala, or lateral hypothalamus/medial forebrain bundle. Further, we provide evidence that activation of this fiber bundle results in patterned activity of neurons in the mPFC, which is distinct from that of laminar stimulation of either the deep layers 5/6 or the superficial layer 1. Evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials are monosynaptic and glutamatergic and exhibit bidirectional changes in synaptic efficacy in response to physiologically relevant induction protocols. These data provide the necessary groundwork for the characterization of the hippocampal pathway projecting to the mPFC.
input specific; slice preparation; track tracing
The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is a key node in the brain's ventral attention network (VAN) that is involved in spatial awareness and detection of salient sensory stimuli, including pain. The anatomical basis of this network's right-lateralized organization is poorly understood. Here we used diffusion-weighted MRI and probabilistic tractography to compare the strength of white matter connections emanating from the right versus left TPJ to target regions in both hemispheres. Symmetry of structural connectivity was evaluated for connections between TPJ and target regions that are key cortical nodes in the right VAN (insula and inferior frontal gyrus) as well as target regions that are involved in salience and/or pain (putamen, cingulate cortex, thalamus). We found a rightward asymmetry in connectivity strength between the TPJ and insula in healthy human subjects who were scanned with two different sets of diffusion-weighted MRI acquisition parameters. This rightward asymmetry in TPJ-insula connectivity was stronger in females than in males. There was also a leftward asymmetry in connectivity strength between the TPJ and inferior frontal gyrus, consistent with previously described lateralization of language pathways. The rightward lateralization of the pathway between the TPJ and insula supports previous findings on the roles of these regions in stimulus-driven attention, sensory awareness, interoception and pain. The findings also have implications for our understanding of acute and chronic pains and stroke-induced spatial hemineglect.
Functional neuroimaging studies suggest that a lateral network in the brain is associated with the sensory aspects of pain perception while a medial network is associated with affective aspects. The highest concentration of opioid receptors is in the medial network. There is significant evidence that endogenous opioids are central to the experience of pain and analgesia. We applied an integrative multimodal imaging approach during acupuncture. We found functional magnetic resonance imaging signal changes in the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, and pons and [11C]diprenorphine positron emission tomography signal changes in the orbitofrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, insula, thalamus, and anterior cingulate cortex. These findings include brain regions within both the lateral and medial pain networks.
acupuncture; placebo; analgesia; opioid; PET; fMRI; 11C-diprenorhine
There is substantial overlap between the brain regions supporting episodic memory and the default network. However, in humans the impact of bilateral medial temporal lobe (MTL) damage on a large-scale neural network such as the default mode network is unknown. To examine this issue, resting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was performed with amnesic patients and control participants. Seed-based functional connectivity analyses revealed robust default network connectivity in amnesia in cortical default network regions such as medial prefrontal cortex, posterior medial cortex, and lateral parietal cortex, as well as evidence of connectivity to residual MTL tissue. Relative to control participants, decreased posterior cingulate cortex connectivity to MTL and increased connectivity to cortical default network regions including lateral parietal and medial prefrontal cortex was observed in amnesia. In contrast, somatomotor network connectivity was intact in amnesia, indicating bilateral MTL lesions may selectively impact the default network. Changes in default network connectivity in amnesia were largely restricted to the MTL subsystem, providing preliminary support from MTL amnesic patients that the default network can be fractionated into functionally and structurally distinct components. To our knowledge, this is the first examination of the default network in amnesia.
fMRI; default mode network; amnesia; episodic memory; hippocampus; prefrontal cortex; posterior cingulate; parietal lobe; diaschisis
Neuroimaging studies have found evidence of altered brain structure and function in schizophrenia, but have had complex findings regarding the localization of abnormality. We applied multimodal imaging (voxel-based morphometry (VBM), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) combined with tractography) to 32 chronic schizophrenic patients and matched healthy controls. At a conservative threshold of P=0.01 corrected, structural and functional imaging revealed overlapping regions of abnormality in the medial frontal cortex. DTI found that white matter abnormality predominated in the anterior corpus callosum, and analysis of the anatomical connectivity of representative seed regions again implicated fibres projecting to the medial frontal cortex. There was also evidence of convergent abnormality in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, although here the laterality was less consistent across techniques. The medial frontal region identified by these three imaging techniques corresponds to the anterior midline node of the default mode network, a brain system which is believed to support internally directed thought, a state of watchfulness, and/or the maintenance of one's sense of self, and which is of considerable current interest in neuropsychiatric disorders.
schizophrenia; voxel-based morphometry; fMRI; diffusion tensor imaging; default mode network; anterior cingulate cortex
The thalamus plays a central and dynamic role in information transmission and processing in the brain. Multiple studies reveal increasing association between schizophrenia and dysfunction of the thalamus, in particular the medial dorsal nucleus (MDN), and its projection targets. The medial dorsal thalamic connections to the prefrontal cortex are of particular interest, and explicit in vivo evidence of this connection in healthy humans is sparse. Additionally, recent neuroimaging evidence has demonstrated disconnection among a variety of cortical regions in schizophrenia, though the MDN thalamic prefrontal cortex network has not been extensively probed in schizophrenia. To this end, we have examined thalamo-anterior cingulate cortex connectivity using detection of low-frequency blood oxygen level dependence fluctuations (LFBF) during a resting-state paradigm. Eleven schizophrenic patients and 12 healthy control participants were enrolled in a study of brain thalamocortical connectivity. Resting-state data were collected, and seed-based connectivity analysis was performed to identify the thalamocortical network. First, we have shown there is MDN thalamocortical connectivity in healthy controls, thus demonstrating that LFBF analysis is a manner to probe the thalamocortical network. Additionally, we have found there is statistically significantly reduced thalamocortical connectivity in schizophrenics compared with matched healthy controls. We did not observe any significant difference in motor networks between groups. We have shown that the thalamocortical network is observable using resting-state connectivity in healthy controls and that this network is altered in schizophrenia. These data support a disruption model of the thalamocortical network and are consistent with a disconnection hypothesis of schizophrenia.
schizophrenia; thalamus; connectivity; fcMRI; resting state; cingulate
The purpose of this study was to examine measures of anatomical connectivity between the thalamus and lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) in schizophrenia and to assess their functional implications. We measured thalamocortical connectivity with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and probabilistic tractography in 15 patients with schizophrenia and 22 age- and sex-matched controls. The relationship between thalamocortical connectivity and prefrontal cortical blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) functional activity as well as behavioral performance during working memory was examined in a subsample of 9 patients and 18 controls. Compared with controls, schizophrenia patients showed reduced total connectivity of the thalamus to only one of six cortical regions, the LPFC. The size of the thalamic region with at least 25% of model fibers reaching the LPFC was also reduced in patients compared with controls. The total thalamocortical connectivity to the LPFC predicted working memory task performance and also correlated with LPFC BOLD activation. Notably, the correlation with BOLD activation was accentuated in patients as compared with controls in the ventral LPFC. These results suggest that thalamocortical connectivity to the LPFC is altered in schizophrenia with functional consequences on working memory processing in LPFC.
diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), probabilistic tractography; medio-dorsal nucleus; prefrontal cortex; working memory; reproducibility; schizophrenia/antipsychotics; imaging; clinical or preclinical; learning & memory; neuroanatomy; DTI; probabilistic tractography; medio-dorsal nucleus; prefrontal cortex; working memory
A distributed network of brain regions is linked to drug-related cue responding. However, the relationships between smoking cue-induced phasic activity and possible underlying differences in brain structure, tonic neuronal activity and connectivity between these brain areas are as yet unclear. Twenty-two smokers and 22 controls viewed smoking-related and neutral pictures during a functional arterial spin labeling scanning session. T1, resting functional, and diffusion tensor imaging data were also collected. Six brain areas, dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/cingulate cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), occipital cortex, and insula/operculum, showed significant smoking cue-elicited activity in smokers when compared with controls and were subjected to secondary analysis for resting state functional connectivity (rsFC), structural, and tonic neuronal activity. rsFC strength between rACC and dlPFC was positively correlated with the cue-elicited activity in dlPFC. Similarly, rsFC strength between dlPFC and dmPFC was positively correlated with the cue-elicited activity in dmPFC while rsFC strength between dmPFC and insula/operculum was negatively correlated with the cue-elicited activity in both dmPFC and insula/operculum, suggesting these brain circuits may facilitate the response to the salient smoking cues. Further, the gray matter density in dlPFC was decreased in smokers and correlated with cue-elicited activity in the same brain area, suggesting a neurobiological mechanism for the impaired cognitive control associated with drug use. Taken together, these results begin to address the underlying neurobiology of smoking cue salience, and may speak to novel treatment strategies and targets for therapeutic interventions.
Smoking cue; anatomical; ASL; DTI; VBM; resting state functional connectivity
The prefrontal cortex projects to many thalamic nuclei, in pathways associated with cognition, emotion, and action. We investigated how multiple projection systems to the thalamus are organized in prefrontal cortex after injection of distinct retrograde tracers in the principal mediodorsal (MD), the limbic anterior medial (AM), and the motor-related ventral anterior/ventral lateral (VA/VL) thalamic nuclei in rhesus monkeys. Neurons projecting to these nuclei were organized in interdigitated modules extending vertically within layers VI and V. Projection neurons were also organized in layers. The majority of projection neurons to MD or AM originated in layer VI (~80%), but a significant proportion (~20%) originated in layer V. In contrast, prefrontal neurons projecting to VA/VL were equally distributed in layers V and VI. Neurons directed to VA/VL occupied mostly the upper part of layer V, while neurons directed to MD or AM occupied mostly the deep part of layer V. The highest proportions of projection neurons in layer V to each nucleus were found in dorsal and medial prefrontal areas. The laminar organization of prefrontal cortico-thalamic projections differs from sensory systems, where projections originate predominantly or entirely from layer VI. Previous studies indicate that layer V cortico-thalamic neurons innervate through some large terminals thalamic neurons that project widely to superficial cortical layers. The large population of prefrontal projection neurons in layer V may drive thalamic neurons, triggering synchronization by recruiting several cortical areas through widespread thalamo-cortical projections to layer I. These pathways may underlie the synthesis of cognition, emotion and action.
Macaca mulatta; mediodorsal thalamic nucleus; anterior thalamic nuclei; layer V pyramidal neurons; cortico-thalamic pathway
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are associated with disturbances of neural connectivity. Functional connectivity between neural structures is typically examined within the context of a cognitive task, but also exists in the absence of a task (i.e., “rest”). Connectivity during rest is particularly active in a set of structures called the default network, which includes the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), retrosplenial cortex, lateral parietal cortex/angular gyrus, medial prefrontal cortex, superior frontal gyrus, temporal lobe, and parahippocampal gyrus. We previously reported that adults with ASD relative to controls show areas of stronger and weaker connectivity within the default network. The objective of the present study was to examine the default network in adolescents with ASD. Sixteen adolescents with ASD and 15 controls participated in a functional MRI study. Functional connectivity was examined between a PCC seed and other areas of the default network. Both groups showed connectivity in the default network. Relative to controls, adolescents with ASD showed widespread weaker connectivity in nine of the eleven areas of the default network. Moreover, an analysis of symptom severity indicated that poorer social skills and increases in restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests correlated with weaker connectivity, whereas poorer verbal and non-verbal communication correlated with stronger connectivity in multiple areas of the default network. These findings indicate that adolescents with ASD show weaker connectivity in the default network than previously reported in adults with ASD. The findings also show that weaker connectivity within the default network is associated with specific impairments in ASD.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; development; symptom severity; Asperger’s syndrome; pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
Recent evidence suggests that some brain areas act as hubs interconnecting distinct, functionally-specialized systems. These nexuses are intriguing because of their potential role in integration and also because they may augment metabolic cascades relevant to brain disease. To identify regions of high connectivity in the human cerebral cortex, we applied a computationally-efficient approach to map the degree of intrinsic functional connectivity across the brain. Analysis of two separate fMRI datasets (each n=24) demonstrated hubs throughout heteromodal areas of association cortex. Prominent hubs were located within posterior cingulate, lateral temporal, lateral parietal, and medial/lateral prefrontal cortices. Network analysis revealed that many, but not all, hubs were located within regions previously implicated as components of the default network. A third dataset (n=12) demonstrated that the locations of hubs were present across passive and active task states suggesting that they reflect a stable property of cortical network architecture. To obtain an accurate reference map, data were combined across 127 participants to yield a consensus estimate of cortical hubs. Using this consensus estimate, we explored whether the topography of hubs could explain the pattern of vulnerability in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as some models suggest that regions of high activity and metabolism accelerate pathology. PET amyloid imaging in AD (n=10) as compared to older controls (n=29) showed high Aβ deposition in the locations of cortical hubs consistent with the possibility that hubs, while acting as critical waystations for information processing, may also augment the underlying pathological cascade in AD.
Connectivity; Cognition; Alzheimer’s disease; fMRI; Cortex; Cingulate
Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens (NAC) region is an effective therapeutic avenue for several psychiatric disorders that are not responsive to traditional treatment strategies. Nonetheless, the mechanisms by which DBS achieves therapeutic effects remain unclear. We showed previously that high-frequency (HF) NAC DBS suppressed pyramidal cell firing and enhanced slow local field potential (LFP) oscillations in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) via antidromic activation of corticostriatal recurrent inhibition. Using simultaneous multisite LFP recordings in urethane-anesthetized rats, we now show that NAC DBS delivered for 90 minutes at high or low frequency (LF) selectively affects spontaneous and evoked LFP oscillatory power and coherence within and between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), lateral OFC, mediodorsal thalamus (MD), and NAC. Compared to LF or sham DBS, HF DBS enhanced spontaneous slow oscillations and potentiated evoked LFP responses only in OFC. HF DBS also produced widespread increases in spontaneous beta and gamma power and enhanced coherent beta activity between MD and all other regions. In contrast, LF DBS elevated theta power in MD and NAC. Analysis of acute NAC-induced oscillations showed that HF DBS increased and LF DBS decreased induced relative gamma coherence compared to sham DBS. These data suggest that HF (therapeutic) and LF (possibly deleterious) NAC DBS produce distinct region-specific and frequency band-specific changes in LFP oscillations. NAC DBS may achieve therapeutic effects by enhancing rhythmicity and synchronous inhibition within and between afferent structures, thereby normalizing function of a neural circuit that shows aberrant activity in obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.
electrical stimulation; nucleus accumbens; prefrontal; thalamus; electrophysiology; obsessive-compulsive
Successful control of affect partly depends on the capacity to modulate negative emotional responses through the use of cognitive strategies (i.e., reappraisal). Recent studies suggest the involvement of frontal cortical regions in the modulation of amygdala reactivity and the mediation of effective emotion regulation. However, within-subject inter-regional connectivity between amygdala and prefrontal cortex in the context of affect regulation is unknown. Here, using psychophysiological interaction analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, we show that activity in specific areas of the frontal cortex (dorsolateral, dorsal medial, anterior cingulate, orbital) covaries with amygdala activity and that this functional connectivity is dependent on the reappraisal task. Moreover, strength of amygdala coupling with orbitofrontal cortex and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex predicts the extent of attenuation of negative affect following reappraisal. These findings highlight the importance of functional connectivity within limbic-frontal circuitry during emotion regulation.
emotion; fMRI; functional connectivity; psychophysiological interaction; amygdala; prefrontal; regulation; reappraisal
Several recent studies in non-human primates have provided new insights into the role of the medial thalamus in different aspects of cognitive function. The mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus (MD), by virtue of its connectivity with the frontal cortex, has been implicated in an array of cognitive functions. Rather than serving as an engine or relay for the prefrontal cortex, this area seems to be more specifically involved in regulating plasticity and flexibility of prefrontal-dependent cognitive functions. Focal damage to MD may also exacerbate the effects of damage to other subcortical relays. Thus, a wide range of distributed circuits and cognitive functions may be disrupted from focal damage within the medial thalamus (for example as a consequence of stroke or brain injury). Conversely, this region may make an interesting target for neuromodulation of cognitive function via deep brain stimulation or related methods, in conditions associated with dysfunction of these neural circuits.
thalamus; mediodorsal nucleus; retrograde amnesia; anterograde amnesia; hippocampus; prefrontal
A default mode network of brain regions is known to demonstrate coordinated activity during the resting state. While the default mode network is well characterized in adults, few investigations have focused upon its development. We scanned 9–13 year old children with diffusion tensor imaging and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. We identified resting state networks using Independent Component Analysis and tested whether the functional connectivity between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) depends upon the maturation of the underlying cingulum white matter tract. To determine the generalizability of this relationship, we also tested whether functional connectivity depends on white matter maturity between bilateral lateral prefrontal cortex (lateral PFC) within the executive control network. We found a positive relationship between mPFC-PCC connectivity and fractional anisotropy of the cingulum bundle; this positive relationship was moderated by the age of the subjects such that it was stronger in older children. By contrast, no such structure-function relationship emerged between right and left lateral PFC. However, functional and structural connectivity of this tract related positively with cognitive speed, fluency, and set-switching neuropsychological measures.
Brain networks; cognition; development; DTI; fMRI
To better define the anatomic distinctions between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), we retrospectively applied voxel-based morphometry to the earliest magnetic resonance imaging scans of autopsy-proven AD (N=11), FTLD (N=18), and controls (N=40). Compared with controls, AD patients showed gray matter reductions in posterior temporoparietal and occipital cortex; FTLD patients showed atrophy in medial prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, insula, hippocampus, and amygdala; and patients with both disorders showed atrophy in dorsolateral and orbital prefrontal cortex and lateral temporal cortex (PFWE-corr < .05). Compared with FTLD, AD patients had decreased gray matter in posterior parietal and occipital cortex, whereas FTLD patients had selective atrophy in anterior cingulate, frontal insula, subcallosal gyrus, and striatum (P < .001, uncorrected). These findings suggest that AD and FTLD are anatomically distinct, with degeneration of a posterior parietal network in AD and degeneration of a paralimbic fronto-insular-striatal network in FTLD.
Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; autopsy; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry
The ability to examine associations between neuropsychiatric conditions and functionally relevant frontal lobe sub-regions is a fundamental goal in neuropsychiatry, but methods for identifying frontal sub-regions in MR (magnetic resonance) images are not well established. Prior published techniques have principally defined gyral regions that do not necessarily correspond to known functional divisions. We present a method in which sulcal-gyral landmarks are used to manually delimit functionally relevant regions within the frontal lobe: primary motor cortex, anterior cingulate, deep white matter, premotor cortex regions (supplementary motor complex (SMC), frontal eye field and lateral premotor cortex) and prefrontal cortex (PFC) regions (medial PFC, dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC), inferior PFC, lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and medial OFC). Feasibility was tested by applying the protocol to brain MR data from 15 boys with ADHD and 15 typically developing controls, 8–12 years old. Intra- and inter-rater intraclass correlation coefficients were calculated using parcellation volumes from a subset of that group. Inter-rater results for the 22 hemisphere specific sub-regions ranged from 0.724 to 0.997, with all but six values above 0.9. Boys with ADHD showed significantly smaller left hemisphere SMC and DLPFC volumes after normalization for total cerebral volume. These findings support the method as a reliable and valid technique for parcellating the frontal lobe into functionally relevant subregions.
ADHD; Children; Cortex; Prefrontal; Premotor; Segmentation; Supplementary Motor Complex
The mediodorsal thalamus is a major input to the prefrontal cortex and is thought to modulate cognitive functions of the prefrontal cortex. Damage to the medial, magnocellular part of the mediodorsal thalamus (MDmc) impairs cognitive functions dependent on prefrontal cortex, including memory. The contribution of MDmc to other aspects of cognition dependent on prefrontal cortex has not been determined. The ability of monkeys to adjust their choice behavior in response to changes in reinforcer value, a capacity impaired by lesions of orbital prefrontal cortex, can be tested in a reinforcer devaluation paradigm. In the present study, rhesus monkeys with bilateral neurotoxic MDmc lesions were tested in the devaluation procedure. Monkeys learned visual discrimination problems in which each rewarded object is reliably paired with one of two different food rewards, and then were given choices between pairs of rewarded objects, one associated with each food. Selective satiation of one of the food rewards reduces choices of objects associated with that food in normal monkeys. Monkeys with bilateral neurotoxic lesions of MDmc learned concurrently-presented visual discrimination problems as quickly as unoperated control monkeys, but showed impaired reinforcer devaluation effects. This finding suggests that the neural circuitry for control of behavioral choice by changes in reinforcer value includes MDmc.
amygdala; choice behavior; decision-making; devaluation; medial thalamus; orbitofrontal cortex; prefrontal cortex; reward
The parietal cortex has traditionally been implicated in spatial attention and eye-movement processes. Recent functional neuroimaging studies have found that activation in the parietal cortex is related to successful recognition memory. The activated regions consistently include the intraparietal sulcus in the lateral parietal cortex and the precuneus in the medial parietal cortex. However, little is known about the functional differences between lateral and medial parietal cortices in the memory retrieval process. In this study, we examined whether the human lateral and medial parietal lobes have differential anatomical and functional connectivity with the temporal lobe. To this end, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to constrain the analysis of anatomical connectivity obtained by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Both DTI tractography and functional connectivity analysis showed that the lateral parietal region has anatomical and functional connections with the lateral temporal lobe, and the medial parietal region has connections with the medial temporal lobe. These results suggest the existence of segregated lateral and medial parieto-temporal pathways in successful memory retrieval.
diffusion tensor imaging; functional connectivity; long-term memory; parietal cortex; temporal lobe
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with increased functional connectivity in specific neural networks. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), the gold-standard treatment for acute, treatment-resistant MDD, but temporal dependencies between networks associated with ECT response have yet to be investigated. In the present longitudinal, case–control investigation, we used independent component analysis to identify distinct networks of brain regions with temporally coherent hemodynamic signal change and functional network connectivity (FNC) to assess component time course correlations across these networks. MDD subjects completed imaging and clinical assessments immediately prior to the ECT series and a minimum of 5 days after the last ECT treatment. We focused our analysis on four networks affected in MDD: the subcallosal cingulate gyrus, default mode, dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC). In an older sample of ECT subjects (n = 12) with MDD, remission associated with the ECT series reverses the relationship from negative to positive between the posterior default mode (p_DM) and two other networks: the DMPFC and left dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (l_DLPFC). Relative to demographically healthy subjects (n = 12), the FNC between the p_DM areas and the DMPFC normalizes with ECT response. The FNC changes following treatment did not correlate with symptom improvement; however, a direct comparison between ECT remitters and non-remitters showed the pattern of increased FNC between the p_DM and l_DLPFC following ECT to be specific to those who responded to the treatment. The differences between ECT remitters and non-remitters suggest that this increased FNC between p_DM areas and the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is a neural correlate and potential biomarker of recovery from a depressed episode.
major depressive disorder; electroconvulsive therapy; resting state fMRI; independent component analysis; functional network connectivity