Analysis of Nerve Fibers and Their Distribution in Histologic Sections of the Human Brain

Oliver Schmitt*, M. Pakura, T. Aach, L. Hömke, M. Böhme, S. Bock, S. Preuße

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
10 Zitate (Scopus)


The field of quantitative analysis and subsequent mapping of the cerebral cortex has developed rapidly. New powerful tools have been applied to investigate large regions of complex folded gyrencephalic cortices in order to detect structural transition regions that might partition different cortical fields of disjunct neuronal functions. We have developed a new mapping approach based on axoarchitectonics, a method of cortical visualization that previously has been used only indirectly with regard to myeloarchitectonics. Myeloarchitectonic visualization has the disadvantage of producing strong agglomerative effects of closely neighbored nerve fibers. Therefore, single and neurofunctional-relevant parameters such as axonal branchings, axon areas, and axon numbers have not been determinable with satisfying precision. As a result, different staining techniques had to be explored in order to achieve a suitable histologic staining for axon visualization. The best results were obtained after modifying the Naoumenko-Feigin staining for axons. From these contrast-rich stained histologic sections, videomicroscopic digital image tiles were generated and analyzed using a new fiber analysis framework. Finally, the analysis of histologic images provided topologic ordered parameters of axons that were transferred into parameter maps. The axon parameter maps were analyzed further via a recently developed traverse generating algorithm that calculated test lines oriented perpendicular to the cortical surface and white matter border. The gray value coded parameters of the parameter maps were then transferred into profile arrays. These profile arrays were statistically analyzed by a reliable excess mass approach we recently developed. We found that specific axonal parameters are preferentially distributed throughout granular and agranular types of cortex. Furthermore, our new procedure detected transition regions originally defined by changes of cytoarchitectonic layering. Statistically significant inhomogeneities of the distribution of certain axon quantities were shown to indicate a subparcellation of areas 4 and 6. The quantification techniques established here for the analysis of spatial axon distributions within larger regions of the cerebral cortex are suitable to detect inhomogeneities of laminar axon patterns. Hence, these techniques can be recommended for systematic and observer-supported cortical area mapping and parcellation studies.

ZeitschriftMicroscopy Research and Technique
Seiten (von - bis)220-243
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 01.03.2004


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