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Neuroimage. 2004 Feb;21(2):616-22.

Subcortical pathways serving cortical language sites: initial experience with diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking combined with intraoperative language mapping.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


The combination of mapping functional cortical neurons by intraoperative cortical stimulation and axonal architecture by diffusion tensor MRI fiber tracking can be used to delineate the pathways between functional regions. In this study the authors investigated the feasibility of combining these techniques to yield connectivity associated with motor speech and naming. Diffusion tensor MRI fiber tracking provides maps of axonal bundles and was combined with intraoperative mapping of eloquent cortex for a patient undergoing brain tumor surgery. Tracks from eight stimulated sites in the inferior frontal cortex including mouth motor, speech arrest, and anomia were generated from the diffusion tensor MRI data. The regions connected by the fiber tracking were compared to foci from previous functional imaging reports on language tasks. Connections were found between speech arrest, mouth motor, and anomia sites and the SMA proper and cerebral peduncle. The speech arrest and a mouth motor site were also seen to connect to the putamen via the external capsule. This is the first demonstration of delineation of subcortical pathways using diffusion tensor MRI fiber tracking with intraoperative cortical stimulation. The combined techniques may provide improved preservation of eloquent regions during neurological surgery, and may provide access to direct connectivity information between functional regions of the brain.

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