Delineating the Decussating Dentato-rubro-thalamic Tract and Its Connections in Humans Using Diffusion Spectrum Imaging Techniques

Cerebellum. 2022 Feb;21(1):101-115. doi: 10.1007/s12311-021-01283-2. Epub 2021 May 29.


The objective of this study was to identify the decussating dentato-rubro-thalamic tract (d-DRTT) and its afferent and efferent connections in healthy humans using diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) techniques. In the present study, the trajectory and lateralization of the d-DRTT was explored using data from subjects in the Massachusetts General Hospital-Human Connectome Project adult diffusion dataset. The afferent and efferent networks that compose the cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathways were also reconstructed. Correlation analysis was performed to identify interrelationships between subdivisions of the cerebello-dentato-rubro-thalamic and thalamo-cerebral connections. The d-DRTT was visualized bilaterally in 28 subjects. According to a normalized quantitative anisotropy and lateralization index evaluation, the left and right d-DRTT were relatively symmetric. Afferent regions were found mainly in the posterior cerebellum, especially the entire lobule VII (crus I, II and VIIb). Efferent fibers mainly are projected to the contralateral frontal cortex, including the motor and nonmotor regions. Correlations between cerebello-thalamic connections and thalamo-cerebral connections were positive, including the lobule VIIa (crus I and II) to the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and lobules VI, VIIb, VIII, and IX, to the MPFC and motor and premotor areas. These results provide DSI-based tratographic evidence showing segregated and parallel cerebellar outputs to cerebral regions. The posterior cerebellum may play an important role in supporting and handling cognitive activities through d-DRTT. Future studies will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of cerebello-cerebral connections.

Keywords: Cerebellum; Dentato-rubro-thalamic tract; Diffusion spectrum imaging; High angular resolution diffusion imaging; Human Connectome Project.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex*
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus* / diagnostic imaging