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Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 220, Issue 3, pp 1619–1635 | Cite as

Direct diffusion-based parcellation of the human thalamus

  • Vinod Kumar
  • Sarah Mang
  • Wolfgang Grodd
Original Article

Abstract

To assess stable anatomical features of the human thalamus, an unbiased diffusion tensor parcellation approach was used to segment thalamic substructures with similar spatial orientation. We determined localization, size and individual variations of 21 thalamic clusters in a group of 63 healthy human subjects (32 males/31 females). The laterality differences accounted for ±6 % and gender differences for ±4 % of the thalamic volume. Consecutively, five stable clusters in the anterior, medial, lateral and posterior thalamus were selected, which were common to 90 % of all subjects and contained at least 10 voxels. These clusters could be assigned to the anteroventral nucleus (AN) group, the mediodorsal (MD) nucleus, the medial pulvinar (PuM), and the lateral nuclei group. The subcortical and cortical connectivity of these clusters revealed that: (1) the oblique cranio-caudal-oriented fibers of the AN cluster mainly connect to limbic structures, (2) the numerous dorso-frontal-oriented fibers of MD mainly project to the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal lobe, (3) the fibers of the PuM running in parallel with the x-axis project to medio-occipital and medio-temporal areas and connect visual areas with the hippocampus and amygdala and via intrathalamic pathways with medio-frontal areas, and (4) the oblique caudo-cranial fibers of the two lateral clusters located anteriorly in the motor and posteriorly in the sensory thalamus are routing sensory–motor information from the brain stem via the internal capsule to pre- and peri-central regions of the cortex.

Keywords

Thalamus Anatomy Diffusion tensor imaging Laterality Gender Connectivity 

Abbreviations

AC

Anterior commissure

Acc

Nucleus accumbens

AD

Anterodorsal nucleus

AM

Anteromedial nucleus

Amy

Amygdala

AN

Anterior cluster

AV

Anteroventral group

BS

Brainstem

Cau

Caudate nucleus

CoG

Center of gravity

DDO

Dominant diffusion orientations

Den

Dentate nucleus

DTI

Diffusion tensor imaging

EPI

Echo planar imaging

Hip

Hippocampus

LA

Lateral-anterior cluster

LD

Lateral dorsal group

LP

Lateral-posterior cluster

MD

Mediodorsal nucleus

MED

Medial cluster

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging

Pal

Pallidum

PC

Posterior commissure

PO

Posterior cluster

PuM

Medial pulvinar

Put

Putamen

Red

Red nucleus

SD

Standard deviation

Tesla

TE

Echo time

TR

Repetition time

VA

Ventral anterior

VLa

Ventral lateral anterior

VLp

Ventral lateral posterior

VM

Ventral medial

VP

Ventral posterior complex

VPI

Ventral posterior inferior nucleus

VPL

Ventral posterolateral

VPM

Ventral posteromedial

Notes

Acknowledgments

The digital model of the 3D anatomy of the thalamus according to the atlas of Morel (Krauth et al. 2010) was obtained by a written consent with Prof. G. Székely from the Computer Vision Laboratory of the ETH Zürich. We thank Susanne Reiterer for providing the data, Klaus Scheffler for giving access to analysis facilities, Bernd Kardatzki for technical support, Ute Habel, and Eugene Datta for reviewing the manuscript. The German research council (DFG) Grant GR 833/9-1 in part supported this work.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 7660 kb)

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Supplementary material 6 (MP4 1467 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, JARA-Translational Brain MedicineUniversity Hospital, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Graduate School of Neural and Behavioral SciencesInternational Max Planck Research SchoolTübingenGermany
  3. 3.Software Development for Integrated Diagnostics and TherapyGerman Cancer Research CenterHeidelbergGermany

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