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Neuroimage. 2007 Nov 1;38(2):261-70. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

Volumes, spatial extents and a probabilistic atlas of the human basal ganglia and thalamus.

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Division of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, and MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Hammersmith Hospital, DuCane Road, London, UK.


The basal ganglia and thalamus are involved in processing all physiological behaviors and affected by many diseases. Accurate localization is a crucial issue in neuroimaging, particularly when working with groups of normalized images in a standard stereotaxic space. Here, manual delineation of the central structures (thalamus; nucleus caudatus and accumbens; putamen, pallidum, substantia nigra) was performed on 30 high resolution MRIs of healthy young adults (15 female, median age 31 years) in native space. Protocol inter-rater reliabilities were quantified as structure overlap (similarity indices, SIs). Structural volumes were calculated in native space, and after spatial normalization to stereotaxic space (MNI/ICBM152) and in relation to hemispheric volumes. Spatial extents relative to the anterior commissure (AC) were extracted. The 30 resulting atlases were then used to create probabilistic maps in stereotaxic space. Inter-rater SIs were high at 0.85-0.92 except for the nucleus accumbens. In native space, caudate, nucleus accumbens and putamen were significantly larger on the left, and the globus pallidus larger in males. After normalizing for brain volume, the nucleus accumbens, putamen and thalamus were larger on the left, with the gender difference in the globus pallidus still detectable. Some of these volume differences translated into significantly different distances from the AC. The probabilistic maps showed that overall the central structures' boundaries are relatively unchanged after spatial normalization. We present a comprehensive assessment of thalamic and basal ganglia volumetric and geometric data in both native and stereotaxic spaces. Probabilistic maps in MNI/ICBM152 space will allow accurate localization in group analyses.

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