Intrinsic functional relations between human cerebral cortex and thalamus
ABSTRACT The brain is active even in the absence of explicit stimuli or overt responses. This activity is highly correlated within specific networks of the cerebral cortex when assessed with resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) imaging. The role of the thalamus in this intrinsic activity is unknown despite its critical role in the function of the cerebral cortex. Here we mapped correlations in resting-state activity between the human thalamus and the cerebral cortex in adult humans using fMRI BOLD imaging. Based on this functional measure of intrinsic brain activity we partitioned the thalamus into nuclear groups that correspond well with postmortem human histology and connectional anatomy inferred from nonhuman primates. This structure/function correspondence in resting-state activity was strongest between each cerebral hemisphere and its ipsilateral thalamus. However, each hemisphere was also strongly correlated with the contralateral thalamus, a pattern that is not attributable to known thalamocortical monosynaptic connections. These results extend our understanding of the intrinsic network organization of the human brain to the thalamus and highlight the potential of resting-state fMRI BOLD imaging to elucidate thalamocortical relationships.
SourceAvailable from: Ella Striem-Amit[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Is visual input during critical periods of development crucial for the emergence of the fundamental topographical mapping of the visual cortex? And would this structure be retained throughout life-long blindness or would it fade as a result of plastic, use-based reorganization? We used functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging based on intrinsic blood oxygen level-dependent fluctuations to investigate whether significant traces of topographical mapping of the visual scene in the form of retinotopic organization, could be found in congenitally blind adults. A group of 11 fully and congenitally blind subjects and 18 sighted controls were studied. The blind demonstrated an intact functional connectivity network structural organization of the three main retinotopic mapping axes: eccentricity (centre-periphery), laterality (left-right), and elevation (upper-lower) throughout the retinotopic cortex extending to high-level ventral and dorsal streams, including characteristic eccentricity biases in face- and house-selective areas. Functional connectivity-based topographic organization in the visual cortex was indistinguishable from the normally sighted retinotopic functional connectivity structure as indicated by clustering analysis, and was found even in participants who did not have a typical retinal development in utero (microphthalmics). While the internal structural organization of the visual cortex was strikingly similar, the blind exhibited profound differences in functional connectivity to other (non-visual) brain regions as compared to the sighted, which were specific to portions of V1. Central V1 was more connected to language areas but peripheral V1 to spatial attention and control networks. These findings suggest that current accounts of critical periods and experience-dependent development should be revisited even for primary sensory areas, in that the connectivity basis for visual cortex large-scale topographical organization can develop without any visual experience and be retained through life-long experience-dependent plasticity. Furthermore, retinotopic divisions of labour, such as that between the visual cortex regions normally representing the fovea and periphery, also form the basis for topographically-unique plastic changes in the blind. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain.Brain 04/2015; DOI:10.1093/brain/awv083 · 10.23 Impact Factor
Conference Paper: Discovering Voxel-Level Functional Connectivity Between Cortical Regions[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Functional connectivity patterns are known to exist in the human brain at the millimeter scale, but the standard fMRI connectivity measure only computes functional correlations at a coarse level. We present a method for identifying fine-grained functional connectivity between any two brain regions by simultaneously learning voxel-level connectivity maps over both regions. We show how to formulate this problem as a constrained least-squares optimization, which can be solved using a trust region approach. Our method can automatically discover multiple correspondences between distinct voxel clusters in the two regions, even when these clusters have correlated timecourses. We validate our method by identifying a known division in the lateral occipital complex using only functional connectivity, thus demonstrating that we can successfully learn subregion connectivity structures from a small amount of training data.Machine Learning and Interpretation in Neuroimaging Workshop (MLINI), Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS); 12/2012