Topography of the human acoustic radiation as revealed by ex vivo fibers micro-dissection and in vivo diffusion-based tractography

Chiara Maffei, Jorge Jovicich, Alessandro De Benedictis, Francesco Corsini, Mattia Barbareschi, Franco Chioffi, Silvio Sarubbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The acoustic radiation is a compact bundle of fibers conveying auditory information from the medial geniculate nucleus of the thalamus to the auditory cortex. Topographical knowledge of this bundle in primates is scarce and in vivo diffusion-based tractography reconstructions in humans remains challenging, especially with the most widely used MRI acquisition protocols. Therefore, the AR represents a notable anatomical omission in the neurobiological investigation of acoustic and linguistic functional mechanisms in humans. In this study, we combine blunt micro-dissections and advanced diffusion tractography methods to provide novel insights into the topographical anatomy of this bundle in humans. Evidences from ex vivo blunt micro-dissection in three human (two right) hemispheres are compared to the 3D profile of this bundle as reconstructed by tractography techniques in four healthy adult data sets provided by the Human Connectome Project. Both techniques show the unique trajectory of the AR, a transversal course from the midline to the lateral convexity of the posterior temporal lobe. Blunt dissections demonstrated three portions of this bundle that we defined as the genu, stem, and fan, revealing the intimate relationships that each of these components has with neighboring association and projection pathways. Probabilistic tractography and ultra-high b values provided results comparable to blunt micro-dissections and highlighted the main limitations in tracking the AR. This is, to our knowledge, the first ex vivo/in vivo integrated study providing novel and reliable information about the precise anatomy of the AR, which will be important for future investigations in the neuroscientific, clinical, and surgical field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-459
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Sep 2 2017


  • Acoustic radiation
  • Auditory pathways
  • Auditory tract
  • Diffusion tractography
  • Post-mortem dissection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology


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