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Recent Developments in Neuroanatomical Terminology

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Front. Neuroanat. | doi: 10.3389/fnana.2018.00114

Towards a Common Terminology for the Thalamus

  • 1Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

The wealth of competing parcellations with limited cross-correspondence between atlases of the human thalamus raises problems in a time when the usefulness of neuroanatomical methods is increasingly appreciated for modern computational analyses of the brain. An unequivocal nomenclature is, however, compulsory for the understanding of the organization of the thalamus. This situation cannot be improved by renewed discussion but with implementation of neuroinformatics tools.

We adopted a new volumetric approach to characterize the significant subdivisions and determined the relationships between the parcellation schemes of nine most influential atlases of the human thalamus. The volumes of each atlas were 3d-reconstructed and spatially registered to standard MNI/ICBM2009b reference volume of the Human Brain Atlas in the MNI (Montreal Neurological Institute) space (Mai and Majtanik, 2017). This normalization of the individual thalamus shapes allowed for the comparison of the nuclear regions delineated by the different authors. Quantitative cross-comparisons revealed the extent of predictability of territorial borders for eleven area clusters. In case of discordant parcellations we re-analyzed the underlying histological features and the original descriptions. The final scheme of the spatial organization provided the frame for the selected terms for the subdivisions of the human thalamus using on the (modified) terminology of the Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology (FIPAT). Waiving of exact individual definition of regional boundaries in favor of the statistical representation within the open MNI platform provides the common and objective (standardized) ground to achieve concordance between results from different sources (microscopy, imaging etc.).

Keywords: Thalamus, nomenclature, parcellation, terminology, MNI standard space, Concordance analysis, human

Received: 04 Aug 2018; Accepted: 27 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Javier DeFelipe, Cajal Institute (CSIC), Spain

Reviewed by:

Mihail Bota, University of Southern California, United States
Hans J. Ten Donkelaar, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2018 Majtanik and Mai. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jürgen K. Mai, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany,