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  • Effort-based cost-benefit valuation and the human brain.

    3 July 2018

    In both the wild and the laboratory, animals' preferences for one course of action over another reflect not just reward expectations but also the cost in terms of effort that must be invested in pursuing the course of action. The ventral striatum and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACCd) are implicated in the making of cost-benefit decisions in the rat, but there is little information about how effort costs are processed and influence calculations of expected net value in other mammals including humans. We performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging study to determine whether and where activity in the human brain was available to guide effort-based cost-benefit valuation. Subjects were scanned while they performed a series of effortful actions to obtain secondary reinforcers. At the beginning of each trial, subjects were presented with one of eight different visual cues that they had learned indicated how much effort the course of action would entail and how much reward could be expected at its completion. Cue-locked activity in the ventral striatum and midbrain reflected the net value of the course of action, signaling the expected amount of reward discounted by the amount of effort to be invested. Activity in ACCd also reflected the interaction of both expected reward and effort costs. Posterior orbitofrontal and insular activity, however, only reflected the expected reward magnitude. The ventral striatum and anterior cingulate cortex may be the substrate of effort-based cost-benefit valuation in primates as well as in rats.

  • Effects of image reconstruction on fiber orientation mapping from multichannel diffusion MRI: reducing the noise floor using SENSE.

    3 July 2018

    PURPOSE: To examine the effects of the reconstruction algorithm of magnitude images from multichannel diffusion MRI on fiber orientation estimation. THEORY AND METHODS: It is well established that the method used to combine signals from different coil elements in multichannel MRI can have an impact on the properties of the reconstructed magnitude image. Using a root-sum-of-squares approach results in a magnitude signal that follows an effective noncentral-χ distribution. As a result, the noise floor, the minimum measurable in the absence of any true signal, is elevated. This is particularly relevant for diffusion-weighted MRI, where the signal attenuation is of interest. RESULTS: In this study, we illustrate problems that such image reconstruction characteristics may cause in the estimation of fiber orientations, both for model-based and model-free approaches, when modern 32-channel coils are used. We further propose an alternative image reconstruction method that is based on sensitivity encoding (SENSE) and preserves the Rician nature of the single-channel, magnitude MR signal. We show that for the same k-space data, root-sum-of-squares can cause excessive overfitting and reduced precision in orientation estimation compared with the SENSE-based approach. CONCLUSION: These results highlight the importance of choosing the appropriate image reconstruction method for tractography studies that use multichannel receiver coils for diffusion MRI acquisition.

  • Neural mechanisms of foraging.

    3 July 2018

    Behavioral economic studies involving limited numbers of choices have provided key insights into neural decision-making mechanisms. By contrast, animals' foraging choices arise in the context of sequences of encounters with prey or food. On each encounter, the animal chooses whether to engage or, if the environment is sufficiently rich, to search elsewhere. The cost of foraging is also critical. We demonstrate that humans can alternate between two modes of choice, comparative decision-making and foraging, depending on distinct neural mechanisms in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) using distinct reference frames; in ACC, choice variables are represented in invariant reference to foraging or searching for alternatives. Whereas vmPFC encodes values of specific well-defined options, ACC encodes the average value of the foraging environment and cost of foraging.

  • Anatomical and functional connectivity of cytoarchitectonic areas within the human parietal operculum.

    3 July 2018

    In monkeys, the somatosensory cortex on the parietal operculum can be differentiated into several distinct cortical fields. Potential human homologues for these areas have already been defined by cytoarchitectonic mapping and functional imaging experiments. Differences between the two most widely studied areas [operculum parietale (OP) 1 and OP 4] within this region particularly pertain to their connection with either the perceptive parietal network or the frontal motor areas. In the present study, we investigated differences in anatomical connection patterns probed by probabilistic tractography on diffusion tensor imaging data. Functional connectivity was then mapped by coordinate-based meta-analysis of imaging studies. Comparison between these two aspects of connectivity showed a good congruency and hence converging evidence for an involvement of these areas in matching brain networks. There were, however, also several instances in which anatomical and functional connectivity diverged, underlining the independence of these measures and the need for multimodal characterization of brain connectivity. The connectivity analyses performed showed that the two largest areas within the human parietal operculum region display considerable differences in their connectivity to frontoparietal brain regions. In particular, relative to OP 1, area OP 4 is more closely integrated with areas responsible for basic sensorimotor processing and action control, while OP 1 is more closely connected to the parietal networks for higher order somatosensory processing. These results are largely congruent with data on nonhuman primates. Differences between anatomical and functional connectivity as well as between species, however, highlight the need for an integrative view on connectivity, including comparison and cross-validation of results from different approaches.

  • Triangulating a cognitive control network using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI.

    3 July 2018

    The ability to stop motor responses depends critically on the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) and also engages a midbrain region consistent with the subthalamic nucleus (STN). Here we used diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) tractography to show that the IFC and the STN region are connected via a white matter tract, which could underlie a "hyperdirect" pathway for basal ganglia control. Using a novel method of "triangulation" analysis of tractography data, we also found that both the IFC and the STN region are connected with the presupplementary motor area (preSMA). We hypothesized that the preSMA could play a conflict detection/resolution role within a network between the preSMA, the IFC, and the STN region. A second experiment tested this idea with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) using a conditional stop-signal paradigm, enabling examination of behavioral and neural signatures of conflict-induced slowing. The preSMA, IFC, and STN region were significantly activated the greater the conflict-induced slowing. Activation corresponded strongly with spatial foci predicted by the DWI tract analysis, as well as with foci activated by complete response inhibition. The results illustrate how tractography can reveal connections that are verifiable with fMRI. The results also demonstrate a three-way functional-anatomical network in the right hemisphere that could either brake or completely stop responses.

  • Ball and rackets: Inferring fiber fanning from diffusion-weighted MRI.

    3 July 2018

    A number of methods have been proposed for resolving crossing fibers from diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI. However, other complex fiber geometries have drawn minimal attention. In this study, we focus on fiber orientation dispersion induced by within-voxel fanning. We use a multi-compartment, model-based approach to estimate fiber dispersion. Bingham distributions are employed to represent continuous distributions of fiber orientations, centered around a main orientation, and capturing anisotropic dispersion. We evaluate the accuracy of the model for different simulated fanning geometries, under different acquisition protocols and we illustrate the high SNR and angular resolution needs. We also perform a qualitative comparison between our parametric approach and five popular non-parametric techniques that are based on orientation distribution functions (ODFs). This comparison illustrates how the same underlying geometry can be depicted by different methods. We apply the proposed model on high-quality, post-mortem macaque data and present whole-brain maps of fiber dispersion, as well as exquisite details on the local anatomy of fiber distributions in various white matter regions.

  • New approaches for exploring anatomical and functional connectivity in the human brain.

    3 July 2018

    Information processing in the primate brain is based on the complementary principles of modular and distributed information processing. The former emphasizes the specialization of functions within different brain areas. The latter emphasizes the massively parallel nature of brain networks and the fact that function also emerges from the flow of information between brain areas. The localization of function to specific brain areas ("functional segregation") is the commonest approach to investigating function; however, an emerging, complementary approach ("functional integration") describes function in terms of the information flow across networks of areas. Here, we highlight recent advances in neuroimaging methodology that have made it possible to investigate the anatomical architecture of networks in the living human brain with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We also highlight recent thinking on the ways in which functional imaging can be used to characterize information transmission across networks in the human brain (functional and effective connectivity).

  • A Bayesian framework for global tractography.

    3 July 2018

    We readdress the diffusion tractography problem in a global and probabilistic manner. Instead of tracking through local orientations, we parameterise the connexions between brain regions at a global level, and then infer on global and local parameters simultaneously in a Bayesian framework. This approach offers a number of important benefits. The global nature of the tractography reduces sensitivity to local noise and modelling errors. By constraining tractography to ensure a connexion is found, and then inferring on the exact location of the connexion, we increase the robustness of connectivity-based parcellations, allowing parcellations of connexions that were previously invisible to tractography. The Bayesian framework allows a direct comparison of the evidence for connecting and non-connecting models, to test whether the connexion is supported by the data. Crucially, by explicit parameterisation of the connexion between brain regions, we infer on a parameter that is shared with models of functional connectivity. This model is a first step toward the joint inference on functional and anatomical connectivity.

  • Crossing fibres in tract-based spatial statistics.

    3 July 2018

    Voxelwise analysis of white matter properties typically relies on scalar measurements derived, for example, from a tensor model fit to diffusion MRI data. These are spatially matched across subjects prior to statistical modelling. In this paper, we show why and how this can be improved through the use of directionally dependent measurements. In the case where different orientations relate to different fibre populations (e.g., in the presence of crossing fibres), distinguishing and matching those populations of fibres across subjects are important prior to any statistical modelling. It allows one to compare measurements that are related to the same fibres across subjects. We show how this framework applies to the parameters of a crossing fibre model and discuss its implications for voxelwise analysis of the white matter.

  • Probabilistic diffusion tractography with multiple fibre orientations: What can we gain?

    3 July 2018

    We present a direct extension of probabilistic diffusion tractography to the case of multiple fibre orientations. Using automatic relevance determination, we are able to perform online selection of the number of fibre orientations supported by the data at each voxel, simplifying the problem of tracking in a multi-orientation field. We then apply the identical probabilistic algorithm to tractography in the multi- and single-fibre cases in a number of example systems which have previously been tracked successfully or unsuccessfully with single-fibre tractography. We show that multi-fibre tractography offers significant advantages in sensitivity when tracking non-dominant fibre populations, but does not dramatically change tractography results for the dominant pathways.