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Contralateral cerebello-thalamo-cortical pathways with prominent involvement of associative areas in humans in vivo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Fulvia Palesi, Jacques-Donald Tournier, Fernando Calamante, Nils Muhlert, Gloria Castellazzi, Declan Chard, Egidio D'Angelo, Claudia A M Wheeler-Kingshott

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3369-3384
JournalBrain structure & function
Volume220
Issue number6
Early online date19 Aug 2014
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Aug 2014

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Abstract

In addition to motor functions, it has become clear that in humans the cerebellum plays a significant role in cognition too, through connections with associative areas in the cerebral cortex. Classical anatomy indicates that neo-cerebellar regions are connected with the contralateral cerebral cortex through the dentate nucleus, superior cerebellar peduncle, red nucleus and ventrolateral anterior nucleus of the thalamus. The anatomical existence of these connections has been demonstrated using virus retrograde transport techniques in monkeys and rats ex vivo. In this study, using advanced diffusion MRI tractography we show that it is possible to calculate streamlines to reconstruct the pathway connecting the cerebellar cortex with contralateral cerebral cortex in humans in vivo. Corresponding areas of the cerebellar and cerebral cortex encompassed similar proportion (about 80 %) of the tract, suggesting that the majority of streamlines passing through the superior cerebellar peduncle connect the cerebellar hemispheres through the ventrolateral thalamus with contralateral associative areas. This result demonstrates that this kind of tractography is a useful tool to map connections between the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex and moreover could be used to support specific theories about the abnormal communication along these pathways in cognitive dysfunctions in pathologies ranging from dyslexia to autism.

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