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J Neurosci Res. 2018 Jul;96(7):1176-1185. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24235. Epub 2018 Apr 1.

Mapping the trajectory of the amygdalothalamic tract in the human brain.

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Departments of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Texas at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Division of Neuroradiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Department of Neurology, University of Texas at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Neurosurgery, University of Texas at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Mount Saini Beth Israel, New York, New York, USA.


Although the thalamus is not considered primarily as a limbic structure, abundant evidence indicates the essential role of the thalamus as a modulator of limbic functions indirectly through the amygdala. The amygdala is a central component of the limbic system and serves an essential role in modulating the core processes including the memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions. The amygdalothalamic pathway is the largest direct amygdalo-diencephalic connection in the primates including the human brain. Given the crucial role of the amygdalothalamic tract (ATT) in memory function and diencephalic amnesia in stroke patients, diffusion tensor imaging may be helpful in better visualizing the surgical anatomy of this pathway noninvasively. To date, few diffusion-weighted studies have focused on the amygdala, yet the fine neuronal connection of the amygdala and thalamus known as the ATT has yet to be elucidated. This study aimed to investigate the utility of high spatial resolution diffusion tensor tractography for mapping the trajectory of the ATT in the human brain. We studied 15 healthy right-handed human subjects (12 men and 3 women with age range of 24-37 years old). Using a high-resolution diffusion tensor tractography technique, for the first time, we were able to reconstruct and measure the trajectory of the ATT. We further revealed the close relationship of the ATT with the temporopontine tract and the fornix bilaterally in 15 healthy adult human brains.


amygdala; amygdalothalamic; diffusion tensor imaging; high resolution; limbic; thalamus; tractography


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