Mapping the human subcortical auditory system using histology, postmortem MRI and in vivo MRI at 7T

Kevin R. Sitek*, Omer Faruk Gulban, Evan Calabrese, G. Allan Johnson, Agustin Lage-Castellanos, Michelle Moerel, Satrajit S. Ghosh, Federico De Martino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Studying the human subcortical auditory system non-invasively is challenging due to its small, densely packed structures deep within the brain. Additionally, the elaborate threedimensional (3-D) structure of the system can be difficult to understand based on currently available 2-D schematics and animal models. Wfe addressed these issues using a combination of histological data, post mortem magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and in vivo MRI at 7 Tesla. We created anatomical atlases based on state-of-the-art human histology (BigBrain) and postmortem MRI (50 mm). We measured functional MRI (fMRI) responses to natural sounds and demonstrate that the functional localization of subcortical structures is reliable within individual participants who were scanned in two different experiments. Further, a group functional atlas derived from the functional data locates these structures with a median distance below 2 mm. Using diffusion MRI tractography, we revealed structural connectivity maps of the human subcortical auditory pathway both in vivo (1050 mm isotropic resolution) and post mortem (200 mm isotropic resolution). This work captures current MRI capabilities for investigating the human subcortical auditory system, describes challenges that remain, and contributes novel, openly available data, atlases, and tools for researching the human auditory system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere48932
StatePublished - Aug 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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