A Brief History of Stereotactic Atlases: Their Evolution and Importance in Stereotactic Neurosurgery

Brain Sci. 2023 May 21;13(5):830. doi: 10.3390/brainsci13050830.


Following the recent acquisition of unprecedented anatomical details through state-of-the-art neuroimaging, stereotactic procedures such as microelectrode recording (MER) or deep brain stimulation (DBS) can now rely on direct and accurately individualized topographic targeting. Nevertheless, both modern brain atlases derived from appropriate histological techniques involving post-mortem studies of human brain tissue and the methods based on neuroimaging and functional information represent a valuable tool to avoid targeting errors due to imaging artifacts or insufficient anatomical details. Hence, they have thus far been considered a reference guide for functional neurosurgical procedures by neuroscientists and neurosurgeons. In fact, brain atlases, ranging from the ones based on histology and histochemistry to the probabilistic ones grounded on data derived from large clinical databases, are the result of a long and inspiring journey made possible thanks to genial intuitions of great minds in the field of neurosurgery and to the technical advancement of neuroimaging and computational science. The aim of this text is to review the principal characteristics highlighting the milestones of their evolution.

Keywords: basal ganglia; deep brain stimulation; neuroanatomy; stereotactic atlas; stereotaxis.

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