Article

Intrinsic functional relations between human cerebral cortex and thalamus

Washington University, Department of Radiology, Campus Box 8225, 510 South Kingshighway Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Journal of Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.04). 09/2008; 100(4):1740-8. DOI: 10.1152/jn.90463.2008
Source: PubMed

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.

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