Structural and Resting State Functional Connectivity of the Subthalamic Nucleus: Identification of Motor STN Parts and the Hyperdirect Pathway

E. Brunenberg, P. Moeskops, W. Backes, C. Pollo, L. Cammoun, A. Vilanova, M. Janssen, V. Visser-Vandewalle, B. Haar Ter Romeny, J. Thiran and B. Platel

PLoS One 2012;7(6):e39061.

DOI PMID Cited by ~138

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson's disease often alleviates the motor symptoms, but causes cognitive and emotional side effects in a substantial number of cases. Identification of the motor part of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) as part of the presurgical workup could minimize these adverse effects. In this study, we assessed the STN's connectivity to motor, associative, and limbic brain areas, based on structural and functional connectivity analysis of volunteer data. For the structural connectivity, we used streamline counts derived from HARDI fiber tracking. The resulting tracks supported the existence of the so-called "hyperdirect" pathway in humans. Furthermore, we determined the connectivity of each STN voxel with the motor cortical areas. Functional connectivity was calculated based on functional MRI, as the correlation of the signal within a given brain voxel with the signal in the STN. Also, the signal per STN voxel was explained in terms of the correlation with motor or limbic brain seed ROI areas. Both right and left STN ROIs appeared to be structurally and functionally connected to brain areas that are part of the motor, associative, and limbic circuit. Furthermore, this study enabled us to assess the level of segregation of the STN motor part, which is relevant for the planning of STN DBS procedures.