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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 26;8(7):e70141. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070141. Print 2013.

Beyond cytoarchitectonics: the internal and external connectivity structure of the caudate nucleus.

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Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.


While there is ample evidence on the functional and connectional differentiation of the caudate nucleus (CN), less is known about its potential microstructural subdivisions. However, this latter aspect is critical to the local information processing capabilities of the tissue. We applied diffusion MRI, a non-invasive in vivo method that has great potential for the exploration of the brain structure-behavior relationship, in order to characterize the local fiber structure in gray matter of the CN. We report novel evidence of a functionally meaningful structural tri-partition along the anterior-posterior axis of this region. The connectivity of the CN subregions is in line with connectivity evidence from earlier invasive studies in animal models. In addition, histological validation using polarized light imaging (PLI) confirms these results, corroborating the notion that cortico-subcortico-cortical loops involve microstructurally differentiated regions in the caudate nucleus. Methodologically speaking, the comparison with advanced analysis of diffusion MRI shows that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) yields a simplified view of the CN fiber architecture which is refined by advanced high angular resolution imaging methods.

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