Multimodal connectivity-based parcellation reveals a shell-core dichotomy of the human nucleus accumbens

Hum Brain Mapp. 2017 Aug;38(8):3878-3898. doi: 10.1002/hbm.23636. Epub 2017 May 26.


The subdifferentiation of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) has been extensively studied using neuroanatomy and histochemistry, yielding a well-accepted dichotomic shell/core architecture that reflects dissociable roles, such as in reward and aversion, respectively. However, in vivo parcellation of these structures in humans has been rare, potentially impairing future research into the structural and functional characteristics and alterations of putative NAc subregions. Here, we used three complementary parcellation schemes based on tractography, task-independent functional connectivity, and task-dependent co-activation to investigate the regional differentiation within the NAc. We found that a 2-cluster solution with shell-like and core-like subdivisions provided the best description of the data and was consistent with the earlier anatomical shell/core architecture. The consensus clusters from this optimal solution, which was based on the three schemes, were used as the final parcels for the subsequent connection analyses. The resulting connectivity patterns presented inter-hemispheric symmetry, convergence and divergence across the modalities, and, most importantly, clearly distinct patterns between the two subregions. This convergent connectivity patterns also confirmed the connections in animal models, supporting views that the two subregions could have antagonistic roles in some circumstances. Finally, the identified parcels should be helpful in further neuroimaging studies of the NAc. Hum Brain Mapp 38:3878-3898, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: connectivity-based parcellation; functional connectivity; meta-analytic connectivity modeling; nucleus accumbens; tractography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Multimodal Imaging* / methods
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Nucleus Accumbens / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nucleus Accumbens / physiology*
  • Young Adult