Application of Brodmann's area templates for ROI selection in white matter tractography studies

Thottakara P, Lazar M, Johnson SC, Alexander AL

Neuroimage. 2006 Feb 1;29(3):868-78. Epub 2005 Oct 21.


Brodmann's areas are part of the common vernacular used by neuroscientists to indicate specific location of brain activity in functional brain imaging studies. Here, we have employed a template based on the Brodmann's areas as a means of compartmentalizing underlying white matter pathways. White matter tractography was performed on the diffusion tensor data of sixteen subjects using a streamline tracking technique with Runge-Kutta integration. After co-registration, the Brodmann template was utilized for ROI selection. Tracts were segmented based on their termination in a particular area of the template. Binary masks were generated based on the tractography segmentation for a given Brodmann's area in each individual subject. Following registration to a normalized coordinate space, the binary masks were averaged, generating a map that estimates the probability of tractography connectivity for particular white matter pathways to a specific Brodmann's area. The probability maps were color-coded and overlaid on anatomical images to provide perspective. In this study, particular attention was given to the areas of the frontal cortex. A composite map of these areas was generated by assigning each voxel to the Brodmann's area with the highest probability of connectivity, based on the average results. The average maps generated with this method reveal consistent patterns of connectivity across subjects. The use of a normalized template for ROI selection automates the process of segmenting tractography data, making it particularly useful for multi-subject studies. In the future, this method could be used to help elucidate relationships between function and anatomical structure.

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