Non-invasive, in-vivo assessments of human locus coeruleus (LC) integrity are notoriously difficult, given the nucleus’ small size and location deep in the brainstem. However, over the life span neuromelanin accumulates in the LC and acts as a natural contrast agent that opens the door to the non-invasive, in-vivo assessment of LC integrity via MRI.
299 healthy younger and older participants that participated in the Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II) were scanned with a high resolution neuromelanin-sensitive T1-weighted Turbo Spin Echo sequence (T1-TSE; in-plane resolution 0.5 x 0.5 mm). We developed a semi-automatic procedure to extract individual peak LC intensity values and their coordinates across the rostrocaudal extent of the nucleus. The procedure demonstrated high reproducibility across multiple measurements and was validated using both published LC maps (see Figure) and manual intensity assessments. For a detailed description of the method, please refer to Dahl et al. (2019).
Peak intensity coordinates were converted to a LC probability map that we here make freely available to the neuroscientific community to facilitate the comparability of studies. The map is provided in standard Montreal Neurological Institute coordinate space (0.5 mm iso-voxel MNI 152).
When using the map in a study, please cite:
Dahl, M. J., Mather, M., Düzel, S., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., Kühn, S., & Werkle-Bergner, M. (2019). Rostral locus coeruleus integrity is associated with better memory performance in older adults. Nature Human Behaviour, 3, 1203–1214. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-019-0715-2
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