Somatotopic Organization of Hyperdirect Pathway Projections From the Primary Motor Cortex in the Human Brain


Pujol S, Cabeen RP, Yelnik J, François C, Fernandez Vidal S, Karachi C, Bardinet E, Cosgrove RG, Kikinis R. Somatotopic Organization of Hyperdirect Pathway Projections From the Primary Motor Cortex in the Human Brain. Front Neurol. 2022;13 :791092. Copy at

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Background: The subthalamic nucleus (STN) is an effective neurosurgical target to improve motor symptoms in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients. MR-guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) subthalamotomy is being explored as a therapeutic alternative to Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) of the STN. The hyperdirect pathway provides a direct connection between the cortex and the STN and is likely to play a key role in the therapeutic effects of MRgFUS intervention in PD patients. Objective: This study aims to investigate the topography and somatotopy of hyperdirect pathway projections from the primary motor cortex (M1). Methods: We used advanced multi-fiber tractography and high-resolution diffusion MRI data acquired on five subjects of the Human Connectome Project (HCP) to reconstruct hyperdirect pathway projections from M1. Two neuroanatomy experts reviewed the anatomical accuracy of the tracts. We extracted the fascicles arising from the trunk, arm, hand, face and tongue area from the reconstructed pathways. We assessed the variability among subjects based on the fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) of the fibers. We evaluated the spatial arrangement of the different fascicles using the Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of spatial overlap and the centroids of the bundles. Results: We successfully reconstructed hyperdirect pathway projections from M1 in all five subjects. The tracts were in agreement with the expected anatomy. We identified hyperdirect pathway fascicles projecting from the trunk, arm, hand, face and tongue area in all subjects. Tract-derived measurements showed low variability among subjects, and similar distributions of FA and MD values among the fascicles projecting from different M1 areas. We found an anterolateral somatotopic arrangement of the fascicles in the corona radiata, and an average overlap of 0.63 in the internal capsule and 0.65 in the zona incerta. Conclusion: Multi-fiber tractography combined with high-resolution diffusion MRI data enables the identification of the somatotopic organization of the hyperdirect pathway. Our preliminary results suggest that the subdivisions of the hyperdirect pathway projecting from the trunk, arm, hand, face, and tongue motor area are intermixed at the level of the zona incerta and posterior limb of the internal capsule, with a predominantly overlapping topographical organization in both regions. Subject-specific knowledge of the hyperdirect pathway somatotopy could help optimize target definition in MRgFUS intervention.

Last updated on 06/13/2022