Structural covariance of the neostriatum with regional gray matter volumes.
The caudate and putamen nuclei have been traditionally divided into dorsal and ventral territories based on their segregated patterns of functional and anatomical connectivity with distributed cortical regions. Activity-dependent structural plasticity may potentially lead to the development of regional volume correlations, or structural covariance, between the different components of each cortico-striatal circuit. Here, we studied the whole-brain structural covariance patterns of four neostriatal regions belonging to distinct cortico-striatal circuits. We also assessed the potential modulating influence of laterality, age and gender. T1-weighted three-dimensional magnetic resonance images were obtained from ninety healthy participants (50 females). Following data pre-processing, the mean signal value per hemisphere was calculated for the 'seed' regions of interest, located in the dorsal and ventral caudate and the dorsal-caudal and ventral-rostral putamen. Statistical parametric mapping was used to estimate whole-brain voxel-wise structural covariance patterns for each striatal region, controlling for the shared anatomical variance between regions in order to obtain maximally specific structural covariance patterns. As predicted, segregated covariance patterns were observed. Age was found to be a relevant modulator of the covariance patterns of the right caudate regions, while laterality effects were observed for the dorsal-caudal putamen. Gender effects were only observed via an interaction with age. The different patterns of structural covariance are discussed in detail, as well as their similarities with the functional and anatomical connectivity patterns reported for the same striatal regions in other studies. Finally, the potential mechanisms underpinning the phenomenon of volume correlations between distant cortico-striatal structures are also discussed.