Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 221, Issue 3, pp 1751–1766 | Cite as

Atlasing the frontal lobe connections and their variability due to age and education: a spherical deconvolution tractography study

  • K. Rojkova
  • E. Volle
  • M. Urbanski
  • F. Humbert
  • F. Dell’Acqua
  • M. Thiebaut de Schotten
Original Article


In neuroscience, there is a growing consensus that higher cognitive functions may be supported by distributed networks involving different cerebral regions, rather than by single brain areas. Communication within these networks is mediated by white matter tracts and is particularly prominent in the frontal lobes for the control and integration of information. However, the detailed mapping of frontal connections remains incomplete, albeit crucial to an increased understanding of these cognitive functions. Based on 47 high-resolution diffusion-weighted imaging datasets (age range 22–71 years), we built a statistical normative atlas of the frontal lobe connections in stereotaxic space, using state-of-the-art spherical deconvolution tractography. We dissected 55 tracts including U-shaped fibers. We further characterized these tracts by measuring their correlation with age and education level. We reported age-related differences in the microstructural organization of several, specific frontal fiber tracts, but found no correlation with education level. Future voxel-based analyses, such as voxel-based morphometry or tract-based spatial statistics studies, may benefit from our atlas by identifying the tracts and networks involved in frontal functions. Our atlas will also build the capacity of clinicians to further understand the mechanisms involved in brain recovery and plasticity, as well as assist clinicians in the diagnosis of disconnection or abnormality within specific tracts of individual patients with various brain diseases.


White matter Frontal lobe Atlas Aging Fasciculi U-shaped tracts Tractography Diffusion-weighted imaging 



We thank Dr. Marco Catani for his assistance with the anatomical dissection and insightful discussions. We also thank the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche for its support of this project (project CAFORPFC, No. ANR-09-RPDOC-004-01 and project PHENOTYPES, No. ANR-13-JSV4-0001-01). In addition, we also thank the program “Investissements d’avenir” (ANR-10-IAIHU-06) for its generous support.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 4761 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 40 kb)
429_2015_1001_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (36 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Rojkova
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Volle
    • 1
  • M. Urbanski
    • 1
    • 3
  • F. Humbert
    • 4
  • F. Dell’Acqua
    • 6
  • M. Thiebaut de Schotten
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.CNRS UMR 7225, Inserm, UPMC-Paris6, UMR_S 1127, CRICMGH Pitié-SalpêtrièreParisFrance
  2. 2.NatbrainlabBrain and Spine InstituteParisFrance
  3. 3.Service de Médecine et de Réadaptation Gériatrique et NeurologiqueHôpitaux de Saint-MauriceSaint-MauriceFrance
  4. 4.Centre de Neuroimagerie de Recherche CENIRGroupe Hospitalier Pitié-SalpêtrièreParisFrance
  5. 5.Natbrainlab, Sackler Institute of Translational Neurodevelopment, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, NatbrainlabKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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