Toward defining deep brain stimulation targets in MNI space: A subcortical atlas based on multimodal MRI, histology and structural connectivity

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Three-dimensional atlases of subcortical brain structures are valuable tools to reference anatomy in neuroscience and neurology. For instance, they can be used to study the position and shape of the three most common deep brain stimulation (DBS) targets, the subthalamic nucleus (STN), internal part of the pallidum (GPi) and ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus (VIM) in spatial relationship to DBS electrodes. Here, we present a composite atlas based on manual segmentations of a multimodal high resolution brain template, histology and structural connectivity. In a first step, four key structures were defined on the template itself using a combination of multispectral image analysis and manual segmentation. Second, these structures were used as anchor points to coregister a detailed histological atlas into standard space. Results show that this approach significantly improved coregistration accuracy over previously published methods. Finally, a sub-segmentation of STN and GPi into functional zones was achieved based on structural connectivity. The result is a composite atlas that defines key nuclei on the template itself, fills the gaps between them using histology and further subdivides them using structural connectivity. We show that the atlas can be used to segment DBS targets in single subjects, yielding more accurate results compared to priorly published atlases. The atlas will be made publicly available and constitutes a resource to study DBS electrode localizations in combination with modern neuroimaging methods.

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