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Copyright © 2015 the authors

Abstract or Description

Modification of spatial attention via reinforcement learning (Lee and Shomstein, 2013) requires the integration of reward, attention, and executive processes. Corticostriatal pathways are an ideal neural substrate for this integration because these projections exhibit a globally parallel (Alexander et al., 1986), but locally overlapping (Haber, 2003), topographical organization. Here we explore whether there are unique striatal regions that exhibit convergent anatomical connections from orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and posterior parietal cortex. Deterministic fiber tractography on diffusion spectrum imaging data from neurologically healthy adults (N = 60) was used to map frontostriatal and parietostriatal projections. In general, projections from cortex were organized according to both a medial-lateral and a rostral-caudal gradient along the striatal nuclei. Within rostral aspects of the striatum, we identified two bilateral convergence zones (one in the caudate nucleus and another in the putamen) that consisted of voxels with unique projections from orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and parietal regions. The distributed cortical connectivity of these striatal convergence zones was confirmed with follow-up functional connectivity analysis from resting state fMRI data, in which a high percentage of structurally connected voxels also showed significant functional connectivity. The specificity of this convergent architecture to these regions of the rostral striatum was validated against control analysis of connectivity within the motor putamen. These results delineate a neurologically plausible network of converging corticostriatal projections that may support the integration of reward, executive control, and spatial attention that occurs during spatial reinforcement learning.



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Published In

The Journal of neuroscience, 35, 9, 3865-3878.