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Diffusion imaging-based subdivision of the human hypothalamus: A magnetic resonance study with clinical implications

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Anwander,  Alfred
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Knösche,  Thomas R.
Methods and Development Unit Cortical Networks and Cognitive Functions, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Möller,  Harald E.
Methods and Development Unit Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Turner,  Robert
Department Neurophysics, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Geyer,  Stefan
Department Neurophysics, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schönknecht, P., Anwander, A., Petzold, F., Schindler, S., Knösche, T. R., Möller, H. E., et al. (2013). Diffusion imaging-based subdivision of the human hypothalamus: A magnetic resonance study with clinical implications. Klinische Neurophysiologie, 44(1), P159-P159. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1337300.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-E5C1-1
Abstract
The hypothalamus and its subdivisions are involved in many neuropsychiatric conditions such as affective disorders, schizophrenia or narcolepsy but parcellations of hypothalamic subnuclei have hitherto been feasible only with histological techniques in post-mortem brains. In an attempt to map subdivisions of the hypothalamus in vivo we analyzed the directionality information from high-resolution diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images of healthy volunteers. We acquired T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted scans in ten healthy subjects at 3 T. In the T1-weighted images we manually delineated an individual mask of the hypothalamus in each subject and computed in the co-registered diffusion-weighted images the similarity of the principal diffusion direction for each pair of mask voxels. By clustering the similarity matrix into three regions with a k-means algorithm, we obtained an anatomically coherent arrangement of subdivisions across hemispheres and subjects. In each hypothalamus mask we found an anterior region with dorso-ventral principal diffusion direction, a posteromedial region with rostro-caudal direction, and a lateral region with medio-lateral direction. A comparative analysis with microstructural hypothalamus parcellations from the literature reveals that each of these regions corresponds to a specific group of hypothalamic subnuclei as defined in post-mortem brains. This is to our best knowledge the first in vivo study that attempts a delineation of hypothalamic subdivisions by clustering diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging data. When applied in a larger sample of neuropsychiatric patients, a structural analysis of hypothalamic subnuclei should contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric conditions such as affective disorders.