The Structural Connectivity of The Human Angular Gyrus as Revealed by Microdissection and Diffusion Tractography
Preprint bioRxiv. 2022-03-15; :
The angular gyrus (AG) has been described in numerous studies to be consistently activated in various functional tasks. The angular gyrus is a critical connector epicenter linking multiple functional networks regarding its location in the posterior part of the inferior parietal cortex, namely at the junction between the parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. It is thus crucial to identify the different pathways that anatomically connect this high-order association region to the rest of the brain. Our study revisits the three-dimensional architecture of the structural AG connectivity by combining state-of-the-art postmortem blunt microdissection with advanced in vivo diffusion tractography to propose a comprehensive description of the association, projection, and commissural fibers that connect the human angular gyrus. AG appears as a posterior “angular stone” of associative connections belonging to mid- and long-range dorsal and ventral fibers of the superior and inferior longitudinal systems, respectively, to short-range parietal, occipital and temporal fibers including U-shaped fibers the posterior transverse system. Thus, AG is at a pivotal dorso-ventral position reflecting its critical role in the different functional networks, particularly in language elaboration and spatial attention and awareness in left and right hemispheres, respectively. We also reveal striatal, thalamic, and brainstem connections and a typical inter-hemispheric homotopic callosal connectivity supporting the suggested AG role, in the integration of sensory input for modulating motor control and planning. The present description of AG’s highly distributed wiring diagram may drastically improve intraoperative subcortical testing and post-operative neurologic outcomes related to surgery in and around the angular gyrus.