Dissociating the white matter tracts connecting the temporo-parietal cortical region with frontal cortex using diffusion tractography

Sci Rep. 2020 May 18;10(1):8186. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-64124-y.


Three major white matter pathways connect the posterior temporal region and the adjacent inferior parietal lobule with the lateral frontal cortex: the arcuate fasciculus (AF), and the second and third branches of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF II and SLF III). These pathways are found also in nonhuman primate brains where they play specific roles in auditory and spatial processing. The precise origin, course, and termination of these pathways has been examined in invasive tract tracing studies in macaque monkeys. Here we use this prior knowledge to improve dissections of these pathways in vivo in the human brain using diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) tractography. In this study, the AF, originating from the posterior temporal cortex, has been successfully separated from the SLF II and SLF III tracts originating from the angular and supramarginal gyri of the inferior parietal lobule, respectively. The latter two pathways, i.e. SLF II and SLF III, have also been clearly separated from each other. Furthermore, we report for the first time in the human brain the dorsal branch of the AF that targets the posterior dorsolateral frontal region. These improved dissection protocols provide a solid basis for exploring the respective functional roles of these major fasciculi.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging*
  • Rest
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult

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