Do we need to revise the tripartite subdivision hypothesis of the human subthalamic nucleus (STN)? Response to Alkemade and Forstmann

Neuroimage. 2015 Apr 15;110:1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.01.038. Epub 2015 Jan 23.


Recently in this journal, Alkemade and Forstmann again challenged the evidence for a tripartite organisation to the subthalamic nucleus (STN) (Alkemade & Forstmann 2014). Additionally, they raised specific issues with the earlier published results using 3T MRI to perform in vivo diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) based segmentation of the STN (Lambert et al. 2012). Their comments reveal a common misconception related to the underlying methodologies used, which we clarify in this reply, in addition to highlighting how their current conclusions are synonymous with our original paper. The ongoing debate, instigated by the controversies surrounding STN parcellation, raises important implications for the assumptions and methodologies employed in mapping functional brain anatomy, both in vivo and ex vivo, and reveals a fundamental emergent problem with the current techniques. These issues are reviewed, and potential strategies that could be developed to manage them in the future are discussed further.

Keywords: Basal ganglia; Deep brain stimulation; Parcellation; Segmentation; Subthalamic nucleus.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Deep Brain Stimulation
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology*