Brainstem nuclei are key participants in the generation and maintenance of arousal, which is a basic function that modulates wakefulness/sleep, autonomic responses, affect, attention, and consciousness. Their mechanism is based on diffuse pathways ascending from the brainstem to the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal forebrain and cortex. Several arousal brainstem nuclei also participate in motor functions that allow humans to respond and interact with the surrounding through a multipathway motor network. Yet, little is known about the structural connectivity of arousal and motor brainstem nuclei in living humans. This is due to the lack of appropriate tools able to accurately visualize brainstem nuclei in conventional imaging. Using a recently developed in vivo probabilistic brainstem nuclei atlas and 7 Tesla diffusion-weighted images (DWI), we built the structural connectome of 18 arousal and motor brainstem nuclei in living humans (n = 19). Furthermore, to investigate the translatability of our findings to standard clinical MRI, we acquired 3 Tesla DWI on the same subjects, and measured the association of the connectome across scanners. For both arousal and motor circuits, our results showed high connectivity within brainstem nuclei, and with expected subcortical and cortical structures based on animal studies. The association between 3 Tesla and 7 Tesla connectivity values was good, especially within the brainstem. The resulting structural connectome might be used as a baseline to better understand arousal and motor functions in health and disease in humans.

In vivo structural connectome of arousal and motor brainstem nuclei by 7 Tesla and 3 Tesla MRI

Cauzzo, Simone;
2022

Abstract

Brainstem nuclei are key participants in the generation and maintenance of arousal, which is a basic function that modulates wakefulness/sleep, autonomic responses, affect, attention, and consciousness. Their mechanism is based on diffuse pathways ascending from the brainstem to the thalamus, hypothalamus, basal forebrain and cortex. Several arousal brainstem nuclei also participate in motor functions that allow humans to respond and interact with the surrounding through a multipathway motor network. Yet, little is known about the structural connectivity of arousal and motor brainstem nuclei in living humans. This is due to the lack of appropriate tools able to accurately visualize brainstem nuclei in conventional imaging. Using a recently developed in vivo probabilistic brainstem nuclei atlas and 7 Tesla diffusion-weighted images (DWI), we built the structural connectome of 18 arousal and motor brainstem nuclei in living humans (n = 19). Furthermore, to investigate the translatability of our findings to standard clinical MRI, we acquired 3 Tesla DWI on the same subjects, and measured the association of the connectome across scanners. For both arousal and motor circuits, our results showed high connectivity within brainstem nuclei, and with expected subcortical and cortical structures based on animal studies. The association between 3 Tesla and 7 Tesla connectivity values was good, especially within the brainstem. The resulting structural connectome might be used as a baseline to better understand arousal and motor functions in health and disease in humans.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11382/547394
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