The mammalian striatum is comprised of intermingled tissue compartments, matrix and striosome. Though indistinguishable by routine histological techniques, matrix and striosome have distinct embryologic origins, afferent/efferent connections, surface protein expression, intra-striatal location, susceptibilities to injury, and functional roles in a range of animal behaviors. Distinguishing the compartments previously required post-mortem tissue and/or genetic manipulation; we aimed to identify matrix/striosome non-invasively in living humans. We used diffusion MRI (probabilistic tractography) to identify human striatal voxels with connectivity biased towards matrix-favoring or striosome-favoring regions (determined by prior animal tract-tracing studies). Segmented striatal compartments replicated the topological segregation and somatotopic organization identified in animal matrix/striosome studies. Of brain regions mapped in prior studies, our human brain data confirmed 93% of the compartment-selective structural connectivity demonstrated in animals. Test-retest assessment on repeat scans found a voxel classification error rate of 0.14%. Fractional anisotropy was significantly higher in matrix-like voxels, while mean diffusivity did not differ between the compartments. As mapped by the Talairach human brain atlas, 460 regions were significantly biased towards either matrix or striosome. Our method allows the study of striatal compartments in human health and disease, in vivo, for the first time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118714
Pages (from-to)118714
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2022


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