Non-invasive mapping of connections between human thalamus and cortex using diffusion imaging.
Behrens TE., Johansen-Berg H., Woolrich MW., Smith SM., Wheeler-Kingshott CA., Boulby PA., Barker GJ., Sillery EL., Sheehan K., Ciccarelli O., Thompson AJ., Brady JM., Matthews PM.
Evidence concerning anatomical connectivities in the human brain is sparse and based largely on limited post-mortem observations. Diffusion tensor imaging has previously been used to define large white-matter tracts in the living human brain, but this technique has had limited success in tracing pathways into gray matter. Here we identified specific connections between human thalamus and cortex using a novel probabilistic tractography algorithm with diffusion imaging data. Classification of thalamic gray matter based on cortical connectivity patterns revealed distinct subregions whose locations correspond to nuclei described previously in histological studies. The connections that we found between thalamus and cortex were similar to those reported for non-human primates and were reproducible between individuals. Our results provide the first quantitative demonstration of reliable inference of anatomical connectivity between human gray matter structures using diffusion data and the first connectivity-based segmentation of gray matter.