The human hippocampal formation is characterized by anterior-posterior gradients of cell density, neurochemistry, and hemodynamics. In addition, some functions are associated with specific subfields (subiculum, CA1-4, dentate gyrus) and regions (anterior and posterior). We performed contrast-enhanced, high-resolution T1-weighted 3T steady state (SS) imaging to investigate cerebral blood volume (CBV) gradients of the hippocampal formation. We studied 14 healthy subjects and found significant CBV gradients (anterior > posterior) in the subiculum but not in other hippocampal subfields. Since CBV is a marker of basal metabolism, these results indicate a greater baseline activity in the anterior compared with the posterior subiculum. This gradient might be related to the role of the subiculum as the main outflow station of the hippocampal formation and might have implications for the mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders.
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