Traditional models of the human language circuitry encompass three cortical areas, Broca's, Geschwind's and Wernicke's, and their connectivity through white matter fascicles. The neural connectivity deep to these cortical areas remains poorly understood, as does the macroscopic functional organization of the cortico-subcortical language circuitry. In an effort to expand current knowledge, we combined functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging to explore subject-specific structural and functional macroscopic connectivity, focusing on Broca's area. Fascicles were studied using diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking seeded from volumes placed manually within the white matter. White matter fascicles and fMRI-derived clusters (antonym-generation task) of positive and negative blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal were co-registered with 3-D renderings of the brain in 12 healthy subjects. Fascicles connecting BOLD-derived clusters were analyzed within specific cortical areas: Broca's, with the pars triangularis, the pars opercularis, and the pars orbitaris; Geschwind's and Wernicke's; the premotor cortex, the dorsal supplementary motor area, the middle temporal gyrus, the dorsal prefrontal cortex and the frontopolar region. We found a functional connectome divisible into three systems-anterior, superior and inferior-around the insula, more complex than previously thought, particularly with respect to a new extended Broca's area. The extended Broca's area involves two new fascicles: the operculo-premotor fascicle comprised of well-organized U-shaped fibers that connect the pars opercularis with the premotor region; and (2) the triangulo-orbitaris system comprised of intermingled U-shaped fibers that connect the pars triangularis with the pars orbitaris. The findings enhance our understanding of language function.
Diffusion Propagator Estimation from Sparse Measurements in a Tractography Framework. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv. 2013;16 (Pt 3) :510-7.Abstract.
Estimation of the diffusion propagator from a sparse set of diffusion MRI (dMRI) measurements is a field of active research. Sparse reconstruction methods propose to reduce scan time and are particularly suitable for scanning un-coperative patients. Recent work on reconstructing the diffusion signal from very few measurements using compressed sensing based techniques has focussed on propagator (or signal) estimation at each voxel independently. However, the goal of many neuroscience studies is to use tractography to study the pathology in white matter fiber tracts. Thus, in this work, we propose a joint framework for robust estimation of the diffusion propagator from sparse measurements while simultaneously tracing the white matter tracts. We propose to use a novel multi-tensor model of diffusion which incorporates the biexponential radial decay of the signal. Our preliminary results on in-vivo data show that the proposed method produces consistent and reliable fiber tracts from very few gradient directions while simultaneously estimating the bi-exponential decay of the diffusion propagator.
Extended Broca's Area in the Functional Connectome of Language in Adults: Combined Cortical and Subcortical Single-subject Analysis using fMRI and DTI Tractography. Brain Topogr. 2013;26 (3) :428-41.Abstract