Mapping of fiber orientation in human internal capsule by means of polarized light and confocal scanning laser microscopy

J Neurosci Methods. 2000 Jan 15;94(2):165-75. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0270(99)00132-6.


The nervous fibers in the human internal capsule were mapped according to their three-dimensional orientation. Four human cadaver brains were cut into comparable and standardized sections parallel to the ACPC-plane, stained with DiI, and analyzed using a combination of confocal and polarized light microscopy at the same time. This combination provides information about the structure and orientation of the fibers in great detail with confocal microscopy, and information about the localization and orientation of long myelinated fiber tracts with polarization microscopy. The internal capsule was parcellated in the areas CI 1 to CI 4 containing fibers of distinct orientation and structure, which enriches the macroscopically definable parcellation in the anterior and posterior limb. Fibers of the anterior thalamic peduncle intermingle with frontopontine tract fibers. Single fibers connect the caudate and the lentiform nucleus. The pyramidal tract is located in the anterior half of the posterior limb intermingled with fibers of the superior thalamic peduncle. Parietooccipitopontine fibers are located in the posterior part of the posterior limb. The slopes of the different systems of fibers change continuously in the anterior posterior direction of the internal capsule. Using the 3D orientation of fibers as a criterion for parcellation, as well as the description of bundles as a collection of fibers belonging to particular tracts leads to a more function-related description of the anatomy of the internal capsule. The method can be used for interindividual, sex- or age-related comparisons of particular systems of fibers.

MeSH terms

  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Internal Capsule / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Polarization
  • Nerve Fibers / ultrastructure*