Open Access Research article

Investigation of fMRI activation in the internal capsule

Jodie R Gawryluk12, Erin L Mazerolle12, Kimberley D Brewer13, Steven D Beyea134 and Ryan CN D'Arcy124*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Biodiagnostics (Atlantic), National Research Council, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

2 Department of Psychology/Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

3 Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

4 Department of Radiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

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BMC Neuroscience 2011, 12:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-12-56

Published: 14 June 2011



Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in white matter has long been considered controversial. Recently, this viewpoint has been challenged by an emerging body of evidence demonstrating white matter activation in the corpus callosum. The current study aimed to determine whether white matter activation could be detected outside of the corpus callosum, in the internal capsule. Data were acquired from a 4 T MRI using a specialized asymmetric spin echo spiral sequence. A motor task was selected to elicit activation in the posterior limb of the internal capsule.


White matter fMRI activation was examined at the individual and group levels. Analyses revealed that activation was present in the posterior limb of the internal capsule in 80% of participants. These results provide further support for white matter fMRI activation.


The ability to visualize functionally active tracts has strong implications for the basic scientific study of connectivity and the clinical assessment of white matter disease.