Stereotaxic probabilistic maps of the magnocellular cell groups in human basal forebrain

Laszlo Zaborszky, L. Hoemke, H. Mohlberg, A. Schleicher, K. Amunts, K. Zilles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

142 Scopus citations


The basal forebrain contains several interdigitating anatomical structures, including the diagonal band of Broca, the basal nucleus of Meynert, the ventral striatum, and also cell groups underneath the globus pallidus that bridge the centromedial amygdala to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Among the cell populations, the magnocellular, cholinergic corticopetal projection neurons have received particular attention due to their loss in Alzheimer's disease. In MRI images, the precise delineation of these structures is difficult due to limited spatial resolution and contrast. Here, using microscopic delineations in ten human postmortem brains, we present stereotaxic probabilistic maps of the basal forebrain areas containing the magnocellular cell groups. Cytoarchitectonic mapping was performed in silver stained histological serial sections. The positions and the extent of the magnocellular cell groups within the septum (Ch1-2), the horizontal limb of the diagonal band (Ch3), and in the sublenticular part of the basal forebrain (Ch4) were traced in high-resolution digitized histological sections, 3D reconstructed, and warped to the reference space of the MNI single subject brain. The superposition of the cytoarchitectonic maps in the MNI brain shows the intersubject variability of the various Ch compartments and their stereotaxic position relative to other brain structures. Both the right and left Ch4 regions showed significantly smaller volumes when age was considered as a covariate. Probabilistic maps of compartments of the basal forebrain magnocellular system are now available as an open source reference for correlation with fMRI, PET, and structural MRI data of the living human brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1141
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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