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Journal Article

Diffusion tensor imaging segments the human amygdala in vivo

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Solano-Castiella, E., Anwander, A., Lohmann, G., Weiss, M., Docherty, C., Geyer, S., et al. (2010). Diffusion tensor imaging segments the human amygdala in vivo. NeuroImage, 49(4), 2958-2965. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.11.027.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-774E-2
The amygdala plays an important role in emotion, learning, and memory. It would be highly advantageous to understand more precisely its internal structure and connectivity for individual human subjects in vivo. Earlier cytoarchitectural research in post-mortem human and animal brains has revealed multiple subdivisions and connectivity patterns, probably related to different functions. With standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, however, the amygdala appears as an undifferentiated area of grey matter. Using high-quality diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at 3 Tesla, we show diffusion anisotropy in this grey matter area. Such data allowed us to subdivide the amygdala for the first time in vivo. In 15 living subjects, we applied a spectral clustering algorithm to the principal diffusion direction in each amygdala voxel and found a consistent subdivision of the amygdala into a medial and a lateral region. The topography of these regions is in good agreement with the fibre architecture visible in myelin-stained sections through the amygdala of a human post-mortem brain. From these in vivo results we derived a probabilistic map of amygdalar fibre orientations. This segmentation technique has important implications for functional studies in the processing of emotions, cognitive function, and psychiatric disorders and in studying morphometry and volumetry of amygdala subdivisions.