Fronto-striatal connections in the human brain: a probabilistic diffusion tractography study

Neurosci Lett. 2007 May 29;419(2):113-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2007.04.049. Epub 2007 May 4.


Anatomical studies in animals have described multiple striatal circuits and suggested that sub-components of the striatum, although functionally related, project to distinct cortical areas. To date, anatomical investigations in humans have been limited by methodological constraints such that most of our knowledge of fronto-striatal networks relies on nonhuman primate studies. To better identify the fronto-striatal pathways in the human brain, we used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) tractography to reconstruct neural connections between the frontal cortex and the caudate nucleus and putamen in vivo. We demonstrate that the human caudate nucleus is interconnected with the prefrontal cortex, inferior and middle temporal gyrus, frontal eye fields, cerebellum and thalamus; the putamen is interconnected with the prefrontal cortex, primary motor area, primary somatosensory cortex, supplementary motor area, premotor area, cerebellum and thalamus. A connectivity-based seed classification analysis identified connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal areas (DLPFC) and the dorsal-posterior caudate nucleus and between the ventrolateral prefrontal areas (VLPFC) and the ventral-anterior caudate nucleus. For the putamen, connections exist between the supplementary motor area (SMA) and dorsal-posterior putamen while the premotor area projects to medial putamen, and the primary motor area to the lateral putamen. Identifying the anatomical organization of the fronto-striatal network has important implications for understanding basal ganglia function and associated disease processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anatomy, Artistic
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Caudate Nucleus / anatomy & histology
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiology
  • Cerebellum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Corpus Striatum / anatomy & histology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Efferent Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Medical Illustration
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Putamen / anatomy & histology
  • Putamen / physiology
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology
  • Thalamus / physiology