Automatic segmentation of thalamic nuclei from diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging

Neuroimage. 2003 Jun;19(2 Pt 1):391-401. doi: 10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00044-2.


The nuclei of the thalamus have traditionally been delineated by their distinct cyto/myeloarchitectural appearance on histology. Here, we show that diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DTI) can noninvasively resolve the major thalamic nuclei based on the characteristic fiber orientation of the corticothalamic/thalamocortical striations within each nucleus. Using an automatic clustering algorithm, we extracted the Talairach coordinates for the individual thalamic nuclei. The center-of-mass coordinates for the segmented nuclei were found to agree strongly with those obtained from a histological atlas. The ability to resolve thalamic nuclei with DTI will allow for morphometric analysis of specific nuclei and improved anatomical localization of functional activation in the thalamus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / anatomy & histology*