Topography of the human corpus callosum revisited--comprehensive fiber tractography using diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging

Neuroimage. 2006 Sep;32(3):989-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.05.044. Epub 2006 Jul 18.


Several tracing studies have established a topographical distribution of fiber connections to the cortex in midsagittal cross-sections of the corpus callosum (CC). The most prominent example is Witelson's scheme, which defines five vertical partitions mainly based on primate data. Conventional MRI of the human CC does not reveal morphologically discernable structures, although microscopy techniques identified myelinated axons with a relatively small diameter in the anterior and posterior third of the CC as opposed to thick fibers in the midbody and posterior splenium. Here, we applied diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in conjunction with a tract-tracing algorithm to gain cortical connectivity information of the CC in individual subjects. With DTI-based tractography, we distinguished five vertical segments of the CC, containing fibers projecting into prefrontal, premotor (and supplementary motor), primary motor, and primary sensory areas as well as into parietal, temporal, and occipital cortical areas. Striking differences to Witelson's classification were recognized in the midbody and anterior third of the CC. In particular, callosal motor fiber bundles were found to cross the CC in a much more posterior location than previously indicated. Differences in water mobility were found to be in qualitative agreement with differences in the microstructure of transcallosal fibers yielding the highest anisotropy in posterior regions of the CC. The lowest anisotropy was observed in compartments assigned to motor and sensory cortical areas. In conclusion, DTI-based fiber tractography of healthy human subjects suggests a modification of the widely accepted Witelson scheme and a new classification of vertical CC partitions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology