In vivo delineation of subdivisions of the human amygdaloid complex in a high-resolution group template

Hum Brain Mapp. 2016 Nov;37(11):3979-3998. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23289.


The nuclei of the human amygdala remain difficult to distinguish in individual subject structural magnetic resonance images. However, interpretation of the amygdala's role in whole brain networks requires accurate localization of functional activity to a particular nucleus or subgroup of nuclei. To address this, high spatial resolution, three-dimensional templates, using joint high accuracy diffeomorphic registration of T1- and T2-weighted structural images from 168 typical adults between 22 and 35 years old released by the Human Connectome Project were constructed. Several internuclear boundaries are clearly visible in these templates, which would otherwise be impossible to delineate in individual subject data. A probabilistic atlas of major nuclei and nuclear groups was constructed in this template space and mapped back to individual spaces by inversion of the individual diffeomorphisms. Group level analyses revealed a slight (∼2%) bias toward larger total amygdala and nuclear volumes in the right hemisphere. No substantial sex or age differences were found in amygdala volumes normalized to total intracranial volume, or subdivision volumes normalized to amygdala volume. The current delineation provides a finer parcellation of the amygdala with more accurate external boundary definition than current histology-based atlases when used in conjunction with high accuracy registration methods, such as diffeomorphic warping. These templates and delineation are intended to be an open and evolving resource for future functional and structural imaging studies of the human amygdala. Hum Brain Mapp 37:3979-3998, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: MRI; amygdala; delineation; template.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging*
  • Atlases as Topic
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Linear Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Organ Size
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Young Adult