The Organization of Frontostriatal Brain Wiring in Healthy Subjects Using a Novel Diffusion Imaging Fiber Cluster Analysis

Cereb Cortex. 2021 Oct 22;31(12):5308-5318. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhab159.


To assess normal organization of frontostriatal brain wiring, we analyzed diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) scans in 100 young adult healthy subjects (HSs). We identified fiber clusters intersecting the frontal cortex and caudate, a core component of associative striatum, and quantified their degree of deviation from a strictly topographic pattern. Using whole brain dMRI tractography and an automated tract parcellation clustering method, we extracted 17 white matter fiber clusters per hemisphere connecting the frontal cortex and caudate. In a novel approach to quantify the geometric relationship among clusters, we measured intercluster endpoint distances between corresponding cluster pairs in the frontal cortex and caudate. We show first, the overall frontal cortex wiring pattern of the caudate deviates from a strictly topographic organization due to significantly greater convergence in regionally specific clusters; second, these significantly convergent clusters originate in subregions of ventrolateral, dorsolateral, and orbitofrontal prefrontal cortex (PFC); and, third, a similar organization in both hemispheres. Using a novel tractography method, we find PFC-caudate brain wiring in HSs deviates from a strictly topographic organization due to a regionally specific pattern of cluster convergence. We conjecture cortical subregions projecting to the caudate with greater convergence subserve functions that benefit from greater circuit integration.

Keywords: brain wiring; caudate; diffusion magnetic resonance imaging; prefrontal cortex; tractography.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging* / methods
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / pathology
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • Young Adult