Classically regarded as motor structures, the basal ganglia subserve a wide range of functions, including motor, cognitive, motivational, and emotional processes. Consistent with this broad-reaching involvement in brain function, basal ganglia dysfunction has been implicated in numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders. Despite recent advances in human neuroimaging, models of basal ganglia circuitry continue to rely primarily upon inference from animal studies. Here, we provide a comprehensive functional connectivity analysis of basal ganglia circuitry in humans through a functional magnetic resonance imaging examination during rest. Voxelwise regression analyses substantiated the hypothesized motor, cognitive, and affective divisions among striatal subregions, and provided in vivo evidence of a functional organization consistent with parallel and integrative loop models described in animals. Our findings also revealed subtler distinctions within striatal subregions not previously appreciated by task-based imaging approaches. For instance, the inferior ventral striatum is functionally connected with medial portions of orbitofrontal cortex, whereas a more superior ventral striatal seed is associated with medial and lateral portions. The ability to map multiple distinct striatal circuits in a single study in humans, as opposed to relying on meta-analyses of multiple studies, is a principal strength of resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging. This approach holds promise for studying basal ganglia dysfunction in clinical disorders.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Basal ganglia
- Functional connectivity
- Nucleus accumbens
- Resting state