The thalamic functional gradient and its relationship to structural basis and cognitive relevance

Siqi Yang, Yao Meng, Jiao Li, Bing Li, Yun-Shuang Fan, Huafu Chen, Wei Liao
2020 NeuroImage  
The human thalamus is an integrative hub richly connected with cortical networks, involving diverse cognitive functions. Emerging evidence suggests that multiscale structural and functional gradients integrate various information across modalities into an abstract representation. However, the presence of functional gradients in the thalamus and its relationship to structural properties and cognitive functions remain unknown. We estimated the functional gradients of the thalamus in two
more » ... t normal cohorts using a novel diffusion embedding analysis. We identified two main axes of the functional connectivity patterns, and examined associations with thalamic anatomy, morphology, intrinsic geometry, and specific behavioral relevance. We found that the dominant gradient indicated a lateral/medial axis across the thalamus and captured associations with anatomical nuclei and gray matter volume. The second gradient was an anterior/posterior axis and provided a behavioral characterization from lower level perception to higher level cognition. Furthermore, these two gradients strongly correlated with spatial distance, indicating the prominence of intrinsic geometry in functional hierarchies. These findings were replicated in an independent dataset. Overall, our findings suggested that macroscale gradients showed a coordination of structural and functional interactions, with hierarchical organization contributing to behavior characterization.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.116960 pmid:32454205 fatcat:okwb44erznhalmu44x5nrv6upu