White matter connections of high-level visual areas predict cytoarchitecture better than category-selectivity in childhood, but not adulthood.
Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
Ventral temporal cortex (VTC) consists of high-level visual regions that are arranged in consistent anatomical locations across individuals. This consistency has led to several hypotheses about the factors that constrain the functional organization of VTC. A prevailing theory is that white matter connections influence the organization of VTC, however, the nature of this constraint is unclear. Here, we test 2 hypotheses: (1) white matter tracts are specific for each category or (2) white matter tracts are specific to cytoarchitectonic areas of VTC. To test these hypotheses, we used diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to identify white matter tracts and functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify category-selective regions in VTC in children and adults. We find that in childhood, white matter connections are linked to cytoarchitecture rather than category-selectivity. In adulthood, however, white matter connections are linked to both cytoarchitecture and category-selectivity. These results suggest a rethinking of the view that category-selective regions in VTC have category-specific white matter connections early in development. Instead, these findings suggest that the neural hardware underlying the processing of categorical stimuli may be more domain-general than previously thought, particularly in childhood.
View details for DOI 10.1093/cercor/bhac221
View details for PubMedID 35671505
Establishing the functional relevancy of white matter connections in the visual system and beyond.
Brain structure & function
For over a century, researchers have examined the functional relevancy of white matter bundles. Consequently, many large-scale bundles spanning several centimeters have been associated in their entirety with specific brain functions, such as language or attention. However, these coarse structural-functional relationships are at odds with modern understanding of the fine-grained functional organization of human cortex, such as the mosaic of category-selective regions in ventral temporal cortex. Here, we review a multimodal approach that combines fMRI to define functional regions of interest within individual's brains with dMRI tractography to identify the white matter bundles of the same individual. Combining these data allows to determine which subsets of streamlines within a white matter bundle connect to specific functional regions in each individual. That is, this approach identifies the functionally defined white matter sub-bundles of the brain. We argue that this approach not only enhances the accuracy of interpreting the functional relevancy of white matter bundles, but also enables segmentation of these large-scale bundles into meaningful functional units, which can then be linked to behavior with enhanced precision. Importantly, this approach has the potential for making new discoveries of the fine-grained functional relevancy of white matter connections in the visual system and the brain more broadly, akin to the flurry of research that has identified functional regions in cortex.
View details for DOI 10.1007/s00429-021-02423-4
View details for PubMedID 34846595