Deciphering the frontostriatal circuitry through the fiber dissection technique: direct structural evidence on the morphology and axonal connectivity of the fronto-caudate tract

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  • 1 Athens Microneurosurgery Laboratory, Evangelismos Hospital, Athens;
  • | 2 Department of Neurosurgery, Evangelismos Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece;
  • | 3 Edinburgh Microneurosurgery Education Laboratory, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, United Kingdom;
  • | 4 Department of Anatomy, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens;
  • | 5 Hellenic Center for Neurosurgical Research, “Petros Kokkalis,” Athens, Greece;
  • | 6 Division of Neurosurgery, Toronto Western Hospital, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada; and
  • | 7 Department of Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York
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OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to investigate the very existence and map the topography, morphology, and axonal connectivity of a thus far ill-defined subcortical pathway known as the fronto-caudate tract (FCT) since there is a paucity of direct structural evidence regarding this pathway in the relevant literature.

METHODS

Twenty normal adult cadaveric formalin-fixed cerebral hemispheres (10 left and 10 right) were explored through the fiber microdissection technique. Lateral to medial and medial to lateral dissections were carried out in a tandem manner in all hemispheres. Attention was focused on the prefrontal area and central core since previous diffusion tensor imaging studies have recorded the tract to reside in this territory.

RESULTS

In all cases, the authors readily identified the FCT as a fan-shaped pathway lying in the most medial layer of the corona radiata and traveling across the subependymal plane before terminating on the superolateral margin of the head and anterior part of the body of the caudate nucleus. The FCT could be adequately differentiated from adjacent fiber tracts and was consistently recorded to terminate in Brodmann areas 8, 9, 10, and 11 (anterior pre–supplementary motor area and the dorsolateral, frontopolar, and fronto-orbital prefrontal cortices). The authors were also able to divide the tract into a ventral and a dorsal segment according to the respective topography and connectivity observed. Hemispheric asymmetries were not observed, but instead the authors disclosed asymmetry within the FCT, with the ventral segment always being thicker and bulkier than the dorsal one.

CONCLUSIONS

By using the fiber microdissection technique, the authors provide sound structural evidence on the topography, morphology, and connectional anatomy of the FCT as a distinct part of a wider frontostriatal circuitry. The findings are in line with the tract’s putative functional implications in high-order motor and behavioral processes and can potentially inform current surgical practice in the fields of neuro-oncology and functional neurosurgery.

ABBREVIATIONS

ACC = anterior cingulate cortex; ADHD = attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; AF = arcuate fasciculus; ALIC = anterior limb of the internal capsule; ATR = anterior thalamic radiation; BA = Brodmann area; CC = corpus callosum; CR = corona radiata; CRad = callosal radiation; CS = centrum semiovale; DBS = deep brain stimulation; DLPFC = dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; DMPFC = dorsomedial prefrontal cortex; DTI = diffusion tensor imaging; DWI = diffusion-weighted imaging; FAT = frontal aslant tract; FCT = fronto-caudate tract; FCTd = dorsal component of the FCT; FCTv = ventral segment of the FCT; FOC = fronto-orbital cortex; OPPFC = orbitopolar prefrontal cortex; SLF = superior longitudinal fasciculus; SMA = supplementary motor area; VCVS = ventral internal capsule/ventral striatum; VLPFC = ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

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