Internal and external segments of globus pallidus (GP) exert different functions in basal ganglia circuitry, despite their main connectional systems share the same topographical organization, delineating limbic, associative, and sensorimotor territories. The identification of internal GP sensorimotor territory has therapeutic implications in functional neurosurgery settings. This study is aimed at assessing the spatial coherence of striatopallidal, subthalamopallidal, and pallidothalamic pathways by using tractography-derived connectivity-based parcellation (CBP) on high quality diffusion MRI data of 100 unrelated healthy subjects from the Human Connectome Project. A two-stage hypothesis-driven CBP approach has been carried out on the internal and external GP. Dice coefficient between functionally homologous pairs of pallidal maps has been computed. In addition, reproducibility of parcellation according to different pathways of interest has been investigated, as well as spatial relations between connectivity maps and existing optimal stimulation points for dystonic patients. The spatial organization of connectivity clusters revealed anterior limbic, intermediate associative and posterior sensorimotor maps within both internal and external GP. Dice coefficients showed high degree of coherence between functionally similar maps derived from the different bundles of interest. Sensorimotor maps derived from the subthalamopallidal pathway resulted to be the nearest to known optimal pallidal stimulation sites for dystonic patients. Our findings suggest that functionally homologous afferent and efferent connections may share similar spatial territory within the GP and that subcortical pallidal connectional systems may have distinct implications in the treatment of movement disorders.
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