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Journal Article

Basal ganglia and cerebellar interconnectivity within the human thalamus


von Cramon,  D. Yves
Translational Neurocirciutry Group, Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research, Cologne, Germany;
Department Cognitive Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Pelzer, E. A., Melzer, C., Timmermann, L., von Cramon, D. Y., & Tittgemeyer, M. (2017). Basal ganglia and cerebellar interconnectivity within the human thalamus. Brain Structure & Function, 222(1), 381-392. doi:10.1007/s00429-016-1223-z.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-19ED-2
Basal ganglia and the cerebellum are part of a densely interconnected network. While both subcortical structures process information in basically segregated loops that primarily interact in the neocortex, direct subcortical interaction has been recently confirmed by neuroanatomical studies using viral transneuronal tracers in non-human primate brains. The thalamus is thought to be the main relay station of both projection systems. Yet, our understanding of subcortical basal ganglia and cerebellar interconnectivity within the human thalamus is rather sparse, primarily due to limitation in the acquisition of in vivo tracing. Consequently, we strive to characterize projections of both systems and their potential overlap within the human thalamus by diffusion MRI and tractography. Our analysis revealed a decreasing anterior-to-posterior gradient for pallido-thalamic connections in: (1) the ventral-anterior thalamus, (2) the intralaminar nuclei, and (3) midline regions. Conversely, we found a decreasing posterior-to-anterior gradient for dentato-thalamic projections predominantly in: (1) the ventral-lateral and posterior nucleus; (2) dorsal parts of the intralaminar nuclei and the subparafascicular nucleus, and (3) the medioventral and lateral mediodorsal nucleus. A considerable overlap of connectivity pattern was apparent in intralaminar nuclei and midline regions. Notably, pallidal and cerebellar projections were both hemispherically lateralized to the left thalamus. While strikingly consistent with findings from transneuronal studies in non-human primates as well as with pre-existing anatomical studies on developmentally expressed markers or pathological human brains, our assessment provides distinctive connectional fingerprints that illustrate the anatomical substrate of integrated functional networks between basal ganglia and the cerebellum. Thereby, our findings furnish useful implications for cerebellar contributions to the clinical symptomatology of movement disorders. © 2016 The Author(s)