October 21, 2020

Parcellation of the human amygdala using recurrence quantification analysis

Several previous attempts have been made to divide the human amygdala into smaller subregions based on the unique functional properties of the subregions. Although these attempts have provided valuable insight into the functional heterogeneity in this structure, the possibility that spatial patterns of functional characteristics can quickly change over time has been neglected in previous studies. In the present study, we explicitly account for the dynamic nature of amygdala activity. Our goal was not only to develop another parcellation method but also to augment existing methods with novel information about amygdala subdivisions. We performed state-specific amygdala parcellation using resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI) data and recurrence quantification analysis (RQA). RsfMRI data from 102 subjects were acquired with a 3T Trio Siemens scanner. We analyzed values of several RQA measures across all voxels in the amygdala and found two amygdala subdivisions, the ventrolateral (VL) and dorsomedial (DM) subdivisions, that differ with respect to one of the RQA measures, Shannon’s entropy of diagonal lines. Compared to the DM subdivision, the VL subdivision can be characterized by a higher value of entropy. The results suggest that VL activity is determined and influenced by more brain structures than is DM activity. To assess the biological validity of the obtained subdivisions, we compared them with histological atlases and currently available parcellations based on structural connectivity patterns (Anatomy Probability Maps) and cytoarchitectonic features (SPM Anatomy toolbox). Moreover, we examined their cortical and subcortical functional connectivity. The obtained results are similar to those previously reported on parcellation performed on the basis of structural connectivity patterns. Functional connectivity analysis revealed that the VL subdivision has strong connections to several cortical areas, whereas the DM subdivision is mainly connected to subcortical regions. This finding suggests that the VL subdivision corresponds to the basolateral subdivision of the amygdala (BLA), while the DM subdivision has some characteristics typical of the centromedial amygdala (CMA). The similarity in functional connectivity patterns between the VL subdivision and BLA, as well as between the DM subdivision and CMA, confirm the utility of our parcellation method. Overall, the study shows that parcellation based on BOLD signal dynamics is a powerful tool for identifying distinct functional systems within the amygdala. This tool might be useful for future research on functional brain organization.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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