Decades of animal and human neuroimaging research have identified distinct, but overlapping, striatal zones, which are interconnected with separable corticostriatal circuits, and are crucial for the organization of functional systems. Despite continuous efforts to subdivide the human striatum based on anatomical and resting-state functional connectivity, characterizing the different psychological processes related to each zone remains a work in progress. Using an unbiased, data-driven approach, we analyzed large-scale coactivation data from 5,809 human imaging studies. We (i) identified five distinct striatal zones that exhibited discrete patterns of coactivation with cortical brain regions across distinct psychological processes and (ii) identified the different psychological processes associated with each zone. We found that the reported pattern of cortical activation reliably predicted which striatal zone was most strongly activated. Critically, activation in each functional zone could be associated with distinct psychological processes directly, rather than inferred indirectly from psychological functions attributed to associated cortices. Consistent with well-established findings, we found an association of the ventral striatum (VS) with reward processing. Confirming less well-established findings, the VS and adjacent anterior caudate were associated with evaluating the value of rewards and actions, respectively. Furthermore, our results confirmed a sometimes overlooked specialization of the posterior caudate nucleus for executive functions, often considered the exclusive domain of frontoparietal cortical circuits. Our findings provide a precise functional map of regional specialization within the human striatum, both in terms of the differential cortical regions and psychological functions associated with each striatal zone.
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PauliOReillyYarkoniEtAl16 Pauli, W. M., O'Reilly, R. C., Yarkoni, T. & Wager, T. D. (2016). Regional specialization within the human striatum for diverse psychological functions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), 113(7), 1907-1912. doi:10.1073/pnas.1507610113 PauliOReillyYarkoniEtAl16.pdf (Web)