White matter tracts in fronto-striato-thalamic circuit in the human brain: Adiffusion spectrum imaging study

Yu Chun Lo, Fu Shan Jaw, Su Chun Huang, Yu Yang Yeh, Wen Yih Isaac Tseng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender and handedness differences in cognitive functions and brain structures are well recognized. Recent research has reported different white matter structures between male and female subjects. Yet it is unknown whether the gender and handedness effects on different white matter tracts are comparable or disparate. In this study, we focus on three main tracts in the fronto-striato-thalamic circuit, namely, the cingulum bundles (CG), fornices (FXs) and anterior thalamic radiations (ATR). These are the primary connections among the frontal lobe, the limbic system, and the thalamus, integrating functions of emotion control, memory, and decision-making. A total of 40 healthy adults were recruited in this study. There was no significant difference in demographic variables between males and females. Images were acquired on a 3-T Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system with an eight-channel head coil. The diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI) experiment was performed by applying 203 diffusion gradient vectors. DSI maps the angular distribution of water molecule displacement by acquiring diffusion MR signals in a more comprehensive way. The theory of DSI is based on the Fourier transform relationship between diffusion MR signals and the average propagator of water molecule displacement. Isotropic spatial resolution was obtained by setting both in-plane and through-plane resolutions as 2.7 mm. A total of 45 trans-axial slices were acquired encompassing the whole brain. DSI analysis was computed based on the Fourier relationship between diffusion echo signals and the probability density function (PDF). Fiber tracking was used to define the targeted tracts. All fiber orientations of the nearest voxels were used to decide the proceeding orientation for the next step. Tracking stopped if there was no coinciding orientation in the nearest voxels. Mean path analysis, a method that projected the anisotropy of PDF [generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA)] onto a single mean path of the specific white matter tract bundle, was used to analyze subtle changes in microstructure coherence along individual tract bundles. The asymmetric differences of targeted tracts were assessed statistically by calculating GFA values and lateralization indices (LIs). The handedness factor of the LI values in CG and ATR showed a trend for significance. The gender factor of the LI values was investigated in FX also. Different white matter tract bundles manifested different degrees of gender effect on GFA distributions. Our results suggest that the gender and handedness factors should be considered when one evaluates the impairment of the fronto-striato-thalamic circuit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-222
Number of pages8
JournalBiomedical Engineering - Applications, Basis and Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior thalamic radiation
  • Cingulum bundles
  • Diffusion spectrum imaging
  • Fornix
  • Gender
  • Handedness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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