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
The parietal lobe has long been viewed as a collection of architectonic and functional subdivisions. Though much parietal research has focused on mechanisms of visuospatial attention and control-related processes, more recent functional neuroimaging studies of memory retrieval have reported greater activity in left lateral parietal cortex (LLPC) when items are correctly identified as previously studied (“old”) vs. unstudied (“new”). These studies have suggested functional divisions within LLPC that may provide distinct contributions towards recognition memory judgments. Here, we define regions within LLPC by developing a novel parcellation scheme that integrates data from resting state functional connectivity MRI (rsfcMRI) and functional MRI (fMRI). This combined approach results in a six-fold parcellation of LLPC based on the presence (or absence) of memory retrieval-related activity, dissociations in the profile of task-evoked timecourses, and membership in large-scale brain networks. This parcellation should serve as a roadmap for future investigations aimed at understanding LLPC function.
parietal; memory; functional connectivity; fMRI; fcMRI; parcellation; module; angular gyrus; intraparietal sulcus; inferior parietal lobule
Noninvasive parcellation of the human cerebral cortex is an important goal for understanding and examining brain functions. Recently, the patterns of anatomical connections using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have been used to parcellate brain regions. Here, we present a noninvasive parcellation approach that uses “functional fingerprints” obtained by correlation measures on resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data to parcellate brain regions. In other terms, brain regions are parcellated based on the similarity of their connection – as reflected by correlation during resting-state – to the whole brain. The proposed method was used to parcellate the medial frontal cortex (MFC) into supplementary motor areas (SMA) and pre-SMA subregions. In agreement with anatomical landmark-based parcellation, we find that functional fingerprint clustering of the MFC results in anterior and posterior clusters. The probabilistic maps from 12 subjects showed that the anterior cluster is mainly located rostral to the vertical commissure anterior (VCA) line, whereas the posterior cluster is mainly located caudal to VCA line, suggesting the homologues of pre-SMA and SMA. The functional connections from the putative pre-SMA cluster were connected to brain regions which are responsible for complex/cognitive motor control, whereas those from the putative SMA cluster were connected to brain regions which are related to the simple motor control. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of the functional connectivity-based parcellation of the human cerebral cortex using resting state fMRI.
The parcellation of the cortex via its anatomical properties has been an important research endeavor for over a century. To date, however, a universally accepted parcellation scheme for the human brain still remains elusive. In the current review, we explore the use of in vivo diffusion imaging and white matter tractography as a non-invasive method for the structural and functional parcellation of the human cerebral cortex, discussing the strengths and limitations of the current approaches. Cortical parcellation via white matter connectivity is based on the premise that, as connectional anatomy determines functional organization, it should be possible to segregate functionally-distinct cortical regions by identifying similarities and differences in connectivity profiles. Recent studies have provided initial evidence in support of the efficacy of this connectional parcellation methodology. Such investigations have identified distinct cortical subregions which correlate strongly with functional regions identified via fMRI and meta-analyses. Furthermore, a strong parallel between the cortical regions defined via tractographic and more traditional cytoarchitectonic parcellation methods has been observed. However, the degree of correspondence and relative functional importance of cytoarchitectonic- versus connectivity-derived parcellations still remains unclear. Diffusion tractography remains one of the only methods capable of visualizing the structural networks of the brain in vivo. As such, it is of vital importance to continue to improve the accuracy of the methodology and to extend its potential applications in the study of cognition in neurological health and disease.
connectivity; cytoarchitecture; diffusion; functional specialization; tractography
Brodmann areas 6, 44, and 45 in the ventrolateral frontal cortex of the left hemisphere of the human brain constitute the anterior language production zone. The anatomic connectivity of these areas with parietal and temporal cortical regions was recently examined in an autoradiographic tract-tracing study in the macaque monkey. Studies suggest strong correspondence between human resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) based on functional magnetic resonance imaging data and experimentally demonstrated anatomical connections in non-human primates. Accordingly, we hypothesized that areas 6, 44 and 45 of the human brain would exhibit patterns of RSFC consistent with patterns of anatomical connectivity observed in the macaque. In a primary analysis, we examined the RSFC associated with regions-of-interest placed in ventrolateral frontal areas 6, 44 and 45, on the basis of local sulcal and gyral anatomy. We validated the results of the primary hypothesis-driven analysis with a data-driven partitioning of ventrolateral frontal cortex into regions exhibiting distinct RSFC patterns, using a spectral clustering algorithm. The RSFC of ventrolateral frontal areas 6, 44 and 45 was consistent with patterns of anatomical connectivity shown in the macaque. We observed a striking dissociation between RSFC for the ventral part of area 6 that is involved in orofacial motor control and RSFC associated with Broca’s region (areas 44 and 45). These findings indicate rich and differential RSFC patterns for the ventrolateral frontal areas controlling language production, consistent with known anatomical connectivity in the macaque brain, and suggest conservation of connectivity during the evolution of the primate brain.
fMRI; resting state; inferior frontal gyrus; language; clustering
The human dorsal frontal cortex has been associated with the most sophisticated aspects of cognition, including those that are thought to be especially refined in humans. Here we used diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) and functional MRI (fMRI) in humans and macaques to infer and compare the organization of dorsal frontal cortex in the two species. Using DW-MRI tractography-based parcellation, we identified 10 dorsal frontal regions lying between the human inferior frontal sulcus and cingulate cortex. Patterns of functional coupling between each area and the rest of the brain were then estimated with fMRI and compared with functional coupling patterns in macaques. Areas in human medial frontal cortex, including areas associated with high-level social cognitive processes such as theory of mind, showed a surprising degree of similarity in their functional coupling patterns with the frontal pole, medial prefrontal, and dorsal prefrontal convexity in the macaque. We failed to find evidence for “new” regions in human medial frontal cortex. On the lateral surface, comparison of functional coupling patterns suggested correspondences in anatomical organization distinct from those that are widely assumed. A human region sometimes referred to as lateral frontal pole more closely resembled area 46, rather than the frontal pole, of the macaque. Overall the pattern of results suggest important similarities in frontal cortex organization in humans and other primates, even in the case of regions thought to carry out uniquely human functions. The patterns of interspecies correspondences are not, however, always those that are widely assumed.
The default mode network (DMN) is often considered a functionally homogeneous system that is broadly associated with internally directed cognition (e.g. episodic memory, theory of mind, self-evaluation). However, few studies have examined how this network interacts with other networks during putative “default” processes such as episodic memory retrieval. Using fMRI, we investigated the topography and response profile of human parietal regions inside and outside the DMN, independently defined using task-evoked deactivations and resting state functional connectivity, during episodic memory retrieval. Memory retrieval activated posterior nodes of the DMN, particularly the angular gyrus, but also more anterior and dorsal parietal regions that were anatomically separate from the DMN. The two sets of parietal regions showed different resting-state functional connectivity and response profiles. During memory retrieval, responses in DMN regions peaked sooner than non-DMN regions, which in turn showed responses that were sustained until a final memory judgment was reached. Moreover, a parahippocampal region that showed strong resting-state connectivity with parietal DMN regions also exhibited a pattern of task-evoked activity similar to that exhibited by DMN regions. These results suggest that DMN parietal regions directly supported memory retrieval, whereas non-DMN parietal regions were more involved in post-retrieval processes such as memory-based decision making. Finally, a robust functional dissociation within the DMN was observed. While angular gyrus and posterior cingulate/precuneus were significantly activated during memory retrieval, an anterior DMN node in medial prefrontal cortex was strongly deactivated. This latter finding demonstrates functional heterogeneity rather than homogeneity within the DMN during episodic memory retrieval.
fMRI; default mode network; episodic memory; medial prefrontal; parietal; functional connectivity
A key question in developmental neuroscience involves understanding how and when the cerebral cortex is partitioned into distinct functional areas. The present study used functional connectivity MRI mapping and graph theory to identify putative cortical areas and generate a parcellation scheme of left lateral parietal cortex (LLPC) in 7 to 10-year-old children and adults. Results indicated that a majority of putative LLPC areas could be matched across groups (mean distance between matched areas across age: 3.15 mm). Furthermore, the boundaries of children's putative LLPC areas respected the boundaries generated from the adults' parcellation scheme for a majority of children's areas (13/15). Consistent with prior research, matched LLPC areas showed age-related differences in functional connectivity strength with other brain regions. These results suggest that LLPC cortical parcellation and functional connectivity mature along different developmental trajectories, with adult-like boundaries between LLPC areas established in school-age children prior to adult-like functional connectivity.
brain development; functional areas; functional connectivity; parietal lobe
The cerebellum processes information from functionally diverse regions of the cerebral cortex. Cerebellar input and output nuclei have connections with prefrontal, parietal, and sensory cortex as well as motor and premotor cortex. However, the topography of the connections between the cerebellar and cerebral cortices remains largely unmapped, as it is relatively unamenable to anatomical methods. We used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging to define subregions within the cerebellar cortex based on their functional connectivity with the cerebral cortex. We mapped resting-state functional connectivity voxel-wise across the cerebellar cortex, for cerebral–cortical masks covering prefrontal, motor, somatosensory, posterior parietal, visual, and auditory cortices. We found that the cerebellum can be divided into at least 2 zones: 1) a primary sensorimotor zone (Lobules V, VI, and VIII), which contains overlapping functional connectivity maps for domain-specific motor, somatosensory, visual, and auditory cortices; and 2) a supramodal zone (Lobules VIIa, Crus I, and II), which contains overlapping functional connectivity maps for prefrontal and posterior-parietal cortex. The cortical connectivity of the supramodal zone was driven by regions of frontal and parietal cortex which are not directly involved in sensory or motor processing, including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the frontal pole, and the inferior parietal lobule.
cerebellum; fMRI; functional connectivity; networks; resting-state
This review focuses on the role of long-range connectivity as one element of brain structure that is of key importance for the functional–anatomical organization of the cortex. In this context, we discuss the putative guiding principles for mapping brain function and structure onto the cortical surface. Such mappings reveal a high degree of functional–anatomical segregation. Given that brain regions frequently maintain characteristic connectivity profiles and the functional repertoire of a cortical area is closely related to its anatomical connections, long-range connectivity may be used to define segregated cortical areas. This methodology is called connectivity-based parcellation. Within this framework, we investigate different techniques to estimate connectivity profiles with emphasis given to non-invasive methods based on diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) and diffusion tractography. Cortical parcellation is then defined based on similarity between diffusion tractograms, and different clustering approaches are discussed. We conclude that the use of non-invasively acquired connectivity estimates to characterize the functional–anatomical organization of the brain is a valid, relevant, and necessary endeavor. Current and future developments in dMRI technology, tractography algorithms, and models of the similarity structure hold great potential for a substantial improvement and enrichment of the results of the technique.
anatomical connectivity; functional connectivity; diffusion tractography; cortex area; connectivity-based parcellation
The medial geniculate body (MGB) of the thalamus is a key component of the auditory system. It is involved in relaying and transforming auditory information to the cortex and in top-down modulation of processing in the midbrain, brainstem, and ear. Functional imaging investigations of this region in humans, however, have been limited by the difficulty of distinguishing MGB from other thalamic nuclei. Here we introduce two methods for reliably delineating MGB anatomically in individuals based on conventional and diffusion MRI data. The first uses high resolution proton-density weighted scanning optimised for subcortical grey-white contrast. The second uses diffusion-weighted imaging and probabilistic tractography to automatically segment the medial and lateral geniculate nuclei from surrounding structures based on their distinctive patterns of connectivity to the rest of the brain. Both methods produce highly replicable results that are consistent with published atlases. Importantly, both methods rely on commonly available imaging sequences and standard hardware, a significant advantage over previously described approaches. In addition to providing useful approaches for identifying the MGB and LGN in vivo, our study offers further validation of diffusion tractography for the parcellation of grey matter regions on the basis of their connectivity patterns.
medial geniculate body; lateral geniculate nucleus; proton density; diffusion weighted imaging; tractography
The thalamus and cerebral cortex are connected via topographically organized, reciprocal connections. Previous studies revealed thalamic abnormalities in schizophrenia; however, it is not known if thalamocortical networks are differentially affected in the disorder. To explore this possibility, we examined functional connectivity in intrinsic low frequency blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal fluctuations between major divisions of the cortex and thalamus using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging.
77 healthy subjects and 62 patients with schizophrenia underwent resting-state fMRI. To identify functional subdivisions of the thalamus, we parceled the cortex into six regions-of-interest; prefrontal, motor, somatosensory, temporal, posterior parietal, and occipital cortex. Mean BOLD time-series was extracted from each of the regions-of-interest and entered into a seed-based functional connectivity analysis.
Consistent with prior reports, activity in distinct cortical areas correlated with specific, largely non-overlapping regions of the thalamus in both healthy subjects and schizophrenia patients. Direct comparison between groups revealed reduced prefrontal-thalamic connectivity and increased motor/somatosensory-thalamic connectivity in schizophrenia. The changes in connectivity were unrelated to local grey matter content within the thalamus and antipsychotic medication dosage. No differences were observed in temporal, posterior parietal, and occipital cortex connectivity with the thalamus.
This study establishes differential abnormalities of thalamocortical networks in schizophrenia. The etiology of schizophrenia may disrupt the development of prefrontal-thalamic connectivity and refinement of somatomotor connectivity with the thalamus that occurs during brain maturation.
Schizophrenia; Resting-state fMRI; Functional Connectivity; Thalamus; Cortex
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
Episodic memory retrieval most often recruits multiple separate processes that are thought to involve different temporal regions. Previous studies suggest dissociable regions in the left lateral parietal cortex that are associated with the retrieval processes. Moreover, studies using resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) have provided evidence for the temporo-parietal memory networks that may support the retrieval processes. In this functional MRI study, we tested functional significance of the memory networks by examining functional connectivity of brain activity during episodic retrieval in the temporal and parietal regions of the memory networks. Recency judgments, judgments of the temporal order of past events, can be achieved by at least two retrieval processes, relational and item-based. Neuroimaging results revealed several temporal and parietal activations associated with relational/item-based recency judgments. Significant RSFC was observed between one parahippocampal region and one left lateral parietal region associated with relational recency judgments, and between four lateral temporal regions and another left lateral parietal region associated with item-based recency judgments. Functional connectivity during task was found to be significant between the parahippocampal region and the parietal region in the RSFC network associated with relational recency judgments. However, out of the four tempo-parietal RSFC networks associated with item-based recency judgments, only one of them (between the left posterior lateral temporal region and the left lateral parietal region) showed significant functional connectivity during task. These results highlight the contrasting roles of the parahippocampal and the lateral temporal regions in recency judgments, and suggest that only a part of the tempo-parietal RSFC networks are recruited to support particular retrieval processes.
By using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) and subsequent tractography, a perisylvian language network in the human left hemisphere recently has been identified connecting Brocas's and Wernicke's areas directly (arcuate fasciculus) and indirectly by a pathway through the inferior parietal cortex.
Applying DTI tractography in the present study, we found a similar three-way pathway in the right hemisphere of 12 healthy individuals: a direct connection between the superior temporal and lateral frontal cortex running in parallel with an indirect connection. The latter composed of a posterior segment connecting the superior temporal with the inferior parietal cortex and an anterior segment running from the inferior parietal to the lateral frontal cortex.
The present DTI findings suggest that the perisylvian inferior parietal, superior temporal, and lateral frontal corticies are tightly connected not only in the human left but also in the human right hemisphere.
A century on, Campbell's largely forgotten 1905 monograph on the localization of cerebral function has a distinctly contemporary feel. Although his map of cortical fields has been eclipsed by Brodmann's later contribution, Campbell's project went beyond cytoarchitectonic cartography, attempting to integrate clinical, anatomical and physiological evidence to provide a guide to function. A key component of Campbell's integrative, functional anatomical approach was hodology—the pattern of white matter connections between cortical areas—foreshadowing a recently developed functional anatomical technique: diffusion tensor tractography. Here, we revisit Campbell's model of the human visual system using tractography to illustrate prominent white matter connections within the occipital lobe and from occipital to frontal, parietal and temporal regions. Campbell used his integrative approach to support the view that vision consisted of a ‘visuo-sensory’ and a ‘visuo-psychic’ stage, combining hodological, cytoarchitectonic, physiological and clinicopathological evidence to locate the former within the calcarine cortex and the latter within the cortical field surrounding it. Speaking directly to contemporary debates surrounding the neurobiology of conscious vision and providing a framework with which to shape future developments in tractography, Campbell's integrative functional anatomical approach is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.
tractography; diffusion tensor imaging; occipital lobe; conscious vision
Despite much research on the function of the insular cortex, few studies have investigated functional subdivisions of the insula in humans. The present study used resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to parcellate the human insular lobe based on clustering of functional connectivity patterns. Connectivity maps were computed for each voxel in the insula based on resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) data and segregated using cluster analysis. We identified 3 insular subregions with distinct patterns of connectivity: a posterior region, functionally connected with primary and secondary somatomotor cortices; a dorsal anterior to middle region, connected with dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, along with other regions of a previously described control network; and a ventral anterior region, primarily connected with pregenual anterior cingulate cortex. Applying these regions to a separate task data set, we found that dorsal and ventral anterior insula responded selectively to disgusting images, while posterior insula did not. These results demonstrate that clustering of connectivity patterns can be used to subdivide cerebral cortex into anatomically and functionally meaningful subregions; the insular regions identified here should be useful in future investigations on the function of the insula.
disgust; insula; parcellation; resting state
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques allow definition of cortical nodes that are presumed to be components of large-scale distributed brain networks involved in cognitive processes. However, very few investigations examine whether such functionally defined areas are in fact structurally connected. Here, we used combined fMRI and diffusion MRI–based tractography to define the cortical network involved in saccadic eye movement control in humans. The results of this multimodal imaging approach demonstrate white matter pathways connecting the frontal eye fields and supplementary eye fields, consistent with the known connectivity of these regions in macaque monkeys. Importantly, however, these connections appeared to be more prominent in the right hemisphere of humans. In addition, there was evidence of a dorsal frontoparietal pathway connecting the frontal eye field and the inferior parietal lobe, also right hemisphere dominant, consistent with specialization of the right hemisphere for directed attention in humans. These findings demonstrate the utility and potential of using multimodal imaging techniques to define large-scale distributed brain networks, including those that demonstrate known hemispheric asymmetries in humans.
fMRI; saccades; tractography
Connectivity analyses and computational modeling of human brain function from fMRI data frequently require the specification of regions of interests (ROIs). Several analyses have relied on atlases derived from anatomical or cyto-architectonic boundaries to specify these ROIs, yet the suitability of atlases for resting state functional connectivity studies has yet to be established. This paper introduces a data-driven method for generating an ROI atlas by parcellating whole brain resting-state fMRI data into spatially coherent regions of homogeneous functional connectivity. Several clustering statistics are used to compare methodological trade-offs as well as determine an adequate number of clusters. Additionally, we evaluate the suitability of the parcellation atlas against four ROI atlases (Talairach and Tournoux, Harvard-Oxford, Eickoff-Zilles, and Automatic Anatomical Labeling) and a random parcellation approach. The evaluated anatomical atlases exhibit poor ROI homogeneity and do not accurately reproduce functional connectivity patterns present at the voxel scale. In general, the proposed functional and random parcellations perform equivalently for most of the metrics evaluated. ROI size and hence the number of ROIs in a parcellation had the greatest impact on their suitability for functional connectivity analysis. With 200 or fewer ROIs, the resulting parcellations consist of ROIs with anatomic homology, and thus offer increased interpretability. Parcellation results containing higher numbers of ROIs (600 or 1000) most accurately represent functional connectivity patterns present at the voxel scale and are preferable when interpretability can be sacrificed for accuracy. The resulting atlases and clustering software have been made publicly available at: http://www.nitrc.org/projects/cluster_roi/.
resting state; functional connectivity; regions of interest; clustering; atlas
Anatomical studies in the macaque cortex and functional imaging studies in humans have demonstrated the existence of different cortical areas within the IntraParietal Sulcus (IPS). Such functional segregation, however, does not correlate with presently available architectonic maps of the human brain. This is particularly true for the classical Brodmann map, which is still widely used as an anatomical reference in functional imaging studies. The aim of this cytoarchitectonic mapping study was to use previously defined algorithms to determine whether consistent regions and borders can be found within the cortex of the anterior IPS in a population of ten postmortem human brains. Two areas, the human IntraParietal area 1 (hIP1) and the human IntraParietal area 2 (hIP2), were delineated in serial histological sections of the anterior, lateral bank of the human IPS. The region hIP1 is located posterior and medial to hIP2, and the former is always within the depths of the IPS. The latter, on the other hand, sometimes reaches the free surface of the superior parietal lobule. The delineations were registered to standard reference space, and probabilistic maps were calculated, thereby quantifying the intersubject variability in location and extent of both areas. In the future, they can be a tool in analyzing structure – function relationships and a basis for determining degrees of homology in the IPS among anthropoid primates. We conclude that the human intraparietal sulcus has a finer grained parcellation than shown in Brodmann’s map.
stereotaxic maps; cytoarchitecture; parietal cortex; human intraparietal sulcus; mapping
Studies in monkeys show clear anatomical and functional distinctions among networks connecting with subregions within the prefrontal cortex. Three such networks are centered on lateral orbitofrontal cortex, medial frontal and cingulate cortex, and lateral prefrontal cortex and all have been identified with distinct cognitive roles. Although these areas differ in a number of their cortical connections, some of the first anatomical evidence for these networks came from tracer studies demonstrating their distinct patterns of connectivity with the mediodorsal (MD) nucleus of the thalamus. Here, we present evidence for a similar topography of MD thalamus prefrontal connections, using non-invasive imaging and diffusion tractography (DWI–DT) in human and macaque. DWI–DT suggested that there was a high probability of interconnection between medial MD and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, between caudodorsal MD and medial frontal/cingulate cortex, and between lateral MD and lateral prefrontal cortex, in both species. Within the lateral prefrontal cortex a dorsolateral region (the principal sulcus in the macaque and middle frontal gyrus in the human) was found to have a high probability of interconnection with the MD region between the regions with a high probability of interconnection with other parts of the lateral prefrontal cortex and with the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. In addition to suggesting that the thalamic connectivity in the macaque is a good guide to human prefrontal cortex, and therefore that there are likely to be similarities in the cognitive roles played by the prefrontal areas in both species, the present results are also the first to provide insight into the topography of projections of an individual thalamic nucleus in the human brain.
Anatomy; DTI; Human; Macaque; Thalamus
One of the most promising avenues for compiling connectivity data originates from the notion that individual brain regions maintain individual connectivity profiles; the functional repertoire of a cortical area (“the functional fingerprint”) is closely related to its anatomical connections (“the connectional fingerprint”) and, hence, a segregated cortical area may be characterized by a highly coherent connectivity pattern. Diffusion tractography can be used to identify borders between such cortical areas. Each cortical area is defined based upon a unique probabilistic tractogram and such a tractogram is representative of a group of tractograms, thereby forming the cortical area. The underlying methodology is called connectivity-based cortex parcellation and requires clustering or grouping of similar diffusion tractograms. Despite the relative success of this technique in producing anatomically sensible results, existing clustering techniques in the context of connectivity-based parcellation typically depend on several non-trivial assumptions. In this paper, we embody an unsupervised hierarchical information-based framework to clustering probabilistic tractograms that avoids many drawbacks offered by previous methods. Cortex parcellation of the inferior frontal gyrus together with the precentral gyrus demonstrates a proof of concept of the proposed method: The automatic parcellation reveals cortical subunits consistent with cytoarchitectonic maps and previous studies including connectivity-based parcellation. Further insight into the hierarchically modular architecture of cortical subunits is given by revealing coarser cortical structures that differentiate between primary as well as premotoric areas and those associated with pre-frontal areas.
cortex parcellation; hierarchical clustering; information theory; diffusion tractography
Healthy aging is accompanied by structural and functional changes in the brain, among which a loss of neural specificity (i.e., dedifferentiation) is one of the most consistent findings. Little is known, however, about changes in interregional integration underlying a dedifferentiation across different functional systems. In a large sample (n = 399) of healthy adults aged from 18 to 85 years, we analyzed age-dependent differences in resting-state (RS) (task-independent) functional connectivity (FC) of a set of brain regions derived from a previous fMRI study. In that study, these regions had shown an age-related loss of activation specificity in visual-attention (superior parietal area 7A and dorsal premotor cortex) or sensorimotor (area OP4 of the parietal operculum) tasks. In addition to these dedifferentiated regions, the FC analysis of the present study included “task-general” regions associated with both attention and sensorimotor systems (rostral supplementary motor area and bilateral anterior insula) as defined via meta-analytical co-activation mapping. Within this network, we observed both selective increases and decreases in RS-FC with age. In line with regional activation changes reported previously, we found diminished anti-correlated FC for inter-system connections (i.e., between sensorimotor-related and visual attention-related regions). Our analysis also revealed reduced FC between system-specific and task-general regions, which might reflect age-related deficits in top-down control possibly leading to dedifferentiation of task-specific brain activity. Together, our results underpin the notion that RS-FC changes concur with regional activity changes in the healthy aging brain, presumably contributing jointly to age-related behavioral changes.
aging; fMRI; resting state; functional connectivity; MACM; functional systems
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is characterized by myoclonic jerks of the upper limbs, often triggered by cognitive stressors. Here we aim to reconcile this particular seizure phenotype with the known frontal lobe type neuropsychological profile, photosensitivity, hyperexcitable motor cortex, and recent advanced imaging studies that identified abnormal functional connectivity of the motor cortex and supplementary motor area (SMA).
We acquired fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in a cohort of 29 patients with JME and 28 healthy control subjects. We used fMRI to determine functional connectivity and DTI-based region parcellation and voxel-wise comparison of probabilistic tractography data to assess the structural connectivity profiles of the mesial frontal lobe.
Patients with JME showed alterations of mesial frontal connectivity with increased structural connectivity between the prefrontal cognitive cortex and motor cortex. We found a positive correlation between DTI and fMRI-based measures of structural and functional connectivity: the greater the structural connectivity between these 2 regions, the greater the observed functional connectivity of corresponding areas. Furthermore, connectivity was reduced between prefrontal and frontopolar regions and increased between the occipital cortex and the SMA.
The observed alterations in microstructural connectivity of the mesial frontal region may represent the anatomic basis for cognitive triggering of motor seizures in JME. Changes in the mesial frontal connectivity profile provide an explanatory framework for several other clinical observations in JME and may be the link between seizure semiology, neurophysiology, neuropsychology, and imaging findings in JME.
The underlying functional neuroanatomy of tinnitus remains poorly understood. Few studies have focused on functional cerebral connectivity changes in tinnitus patients. The aim of this study was to test if functional MRI “resting-state” connectivity patterns in auditory network differ between tinnitus patients and normal controls. Thirteen chronic tinnitus subjects and fifteen age-matched healthy controls were studied on a 3 tesla MRI. Connectivity was investigated using independent component analysis and an automated component selection approach taking into account the spatial and temporal properties of each component. Connectivity in extra-auditory regions such as brainstem, basal ganglia/NAc, cerebellum, parahippocampal, right prefrontal, parietal, and sensorimotor areas was found to be increased in tinnitus subjects. The right primary auditory cortex, left prefrontal, left fusiform gyrus, and bilateral occipital regions showed a decreased connectivity in tinnitus. These results show that there is a modification of cortical and subcortical functional connectivity in tinnitus encompassing attentional, mnemonic, and emotional networks. Our data corroborate the hypothesized implication of non-auditory regions in tinnitus physiopathology and suggest that various regions of the brain seem involved in the persistent awareness of the phenomenon as well as in the development of the associated distress leading to disabling chronic tinnitus.