MRI Diffusion Tensor Tracking of a New Amygdalo-Fusiform and Hippocampo-Fusiform Pathway System in Humans

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Abstract

Purpose:

To use MRI diffusion-tensor tracking (DTT) to test for the presence of unknown neuronal fiber pathways interconnecting the mid-fusiform cortex and anteromedial temporal lobe in humans. Such pathways are hypothesized to exist because these regions coactivate in functional MRI (fMRI) studies of emotion-valued faces and words, suggesting a functional link that could be mediated by neuronal connections.

Materials and Methods:

A total of 15 normal human subjects were studied using unbiased DTT approaches designed for probing unknown pathways, including whole-brain seeding and large pathway-selection volumes. Several quality-control steps verified the results.

Results:

Parallel amygdalo-fusiform and hippocampo-fusiform pathways were found in all subjects. The pathways begin/end at the mid-fusiform gyrus above the lateral occipitotemporal sulcus bilaterally. The superior pathway ends/begins at the superolateral amygdala. The inferior pathway crosses medially and ends/begins at the hippocampal head. The pathways are left-lateralized, with consistently larger cross-sectional area, higher anisotropy, and lower minimum eigenvalue (D-min) on the left, where D-min assesses intrinsic cross-fiber diffusivity independent of curvature.

Conclusion:

A previously-undescribed pathway system interconnecting the mid-fusiform region with the amygdala/hippocampus has been revealed. This pathway system may be important for recognition, memory consolidation, and emotional modulation of face, object, and lexical information, which may be disrupted in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

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