Recent studies suggest that internet addiction disorder (IAD) is associated with structural abnormalities in brain gray matter. However, few studies have investigated the effects of internet addiction on the microstructural integrity of major neuronal fiber pathways, and almost no studies have assessed the microstructural changes with the duration of internet addiction.
We investigated the morphology of the brain in adolescents with IAD (N = 18) using an optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) technique, and studied the white matter fractional anisotropy (FA) changes using the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) method, linking these brain structural measures to the duration of IAD. We provided evidences demonstrating the multiple structural changes of the brain in IAD subjects. VBM results indicated the decreased gray matter volume in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the supplementary motor area (SMA), the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), the cerebellum and the left rostral ACC (rACC). DTI analysis revealed the enhanced FA value of the left posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) and reduced FA value in the white matter within the right parahippocampal gyrus (PHG). Gray matter volumes of the DLPFC, rACC, SMA, and white matter FA changes of the PLIC were significantly correlated with the duration of internet addiction in the adolescents with IAD.
Our results suggested that long-term internet addiction would result in brain structural alterations, which probably contributed to chronic dysfunction in subjects with IAD. The current study may shed further light on the potential brain effects of IAD.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Diffusion tensor imaging is a tool that can be used to study white matter microstructure in dyslexia. We tested the hypothesis that dyslexics have a white matter structural change (as measured by directional diffusion of water, which can be affected by disruption in white matter tracts) between brain regions that previous functional connectivity studies showed were associated with phonologic processing.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) scans were acquired from 7 healthy adult normal readers and from 14 adults with dyslexia on a 1.5T scanner. Voxelwise statistical analysis of the fractional anisotropy data were carried out by using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics to compare dyslexic subjects versus control subjects in white matter tracts.
Significant group difference map clusters (comparing adults with and without dyslexia) occurred in specific bilateral white matter tracts within the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and parietal lobe.
The DTI fractional anisotropy results in the bilateral white matter showing higher fractional anisotropy in adult control subjects compared with adults with dyslexia (relating to white matter fiber tract integrity) are consistent with our previous functional connectivity results from seed points in the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus.
The aim of this study was to determine if there were focal cortical abnormalities in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) using neuropsychological investigations and MRI.
Twenty-eight patients with JME and a large sample of healthy controls were assessed using a series of neuropsychological tests as well as structural and diffusion tensor MRI (DTI). DTI measures assessed fractional anisotropy (FA) within a white matter skeleton.
Neuropsychological testing indicated subtle dysfunctions in verbal fluency, comprehension, and expression, as well as nonverbal memory and mental flexibility. Utilizing whole-brain voxel-based morphometry for gray matter MRI data and tract-based spatial statistics for white matter diffusion MRI data, we found reductions in gray matter volume (GMV) in the supplementary motor area and posterior cingulate cortex and reductions in FA in underlying white matter of the corpus callosum. Supplementary motor area FA predicted scores in word naming tasks and expression scores. Posterior cingulate cortex GMV and FA predicted cognitive inhibition scores on the mental flexibility task.
The neuropsychological, structural, and tractography results implicate mesial frontal cortex, especially the supplementary motor area, and posterior cingulate cortex in JME.
Patients with spina bifida (SB) have variable intellectual outcomes. The authors used diffusion tensor (DT) imaging to quantify whole-brain volumes of gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and perform regional quantitative microstructural assessments of gray matter nuclei and white matter tracts in relation to intellectual outcomes in patients with SB.
Twenty-nine children with myelomeningoceles and 20 age- and sex-matched children with normal neural tube development underwent MR imaging with DT image acquisition and assessments of intelligence. The DT imaging-derived metrics were the fractional anisotropy (FA), axial (parallel), and transverse (perpendicular) diffusivities. These metrics were also used to segment the brain into white matter, gray matter, and CSF. A region-of-interest analysis was conducted of the white and gray matter structures implicated in hydrocephalus.
The amount of whole-brain gray matter was decreased in patients with SB, with a corresponding increase in CSF (p < 0.0001). Regional transverse diffusivity in the caudate nucleus was decreased (p < 0.0001), and the corresponding FA was increased (p < 0.0001), suggesting reduced dendritic branching and connectivity. Fractional anisotropy in the posterior limb of the internal capsule increased in the myelomeningocele group (p = 0.02), suggesting elimination of some divergent fascicles; in contrast, the FA in several white matter structures (such as the corpus callosum genu [p < 0.001] and arcuate fasciculus) was reduced, suggesting disruption of myelination. Diffusion tensor imaging-metrics involving gray matter volume and the caudate nucleus, but not other structures, predicted variations in IQ (r = 0.37-0.50; p < 0.05).
Diffusion tensor imaging-derived metrics provide noninvasive neuronal surrogate markers of the pathogenesis of SB and predict variations in general intellectual outcomes in children with this condition.
caudate nucleus; diffusion tensor imaging; IQ; myelomeningocele; neurodevelopment; spina bifida
The physical structure of white matter fiber bundles constrains their function. Any behavior that relies on transmission of signals along a particular pathway will therefore be influenced by the structural condition of that pathway. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging provides localized measures that are sensitive to white matter microstructure. In this review, we discuss imaging evidence on the relevance of white matter microstructure to behavior. We focus in particular on motor behavior and learning in healthy individuals and in individuals who have suffered a stroke. We provide examples of ways in which imaging measures of structural brain connectivity can inform our study of motor behavior and effects of motor training in three different domains: (1) to assess network degeneration or damage with healthy aging and following stroke, (2) to identify a structural basis for individual differences in behavioral responses, and (3) to test for dynamic changes in structural connectivity with learning or recovery.
MRI; diffusion imaging; white matter; stroke; recovery; motor learning; human
We examined white matter abnormalities in patients with a distinctive extrapyramidal syndrome due to intravenous methcathinone (ephedrone) abuse. We performed diffusion tensor imaging in ten patients and fifteen age-matched controls to assess white matter structure across the whole brain. Diffuse significant decreases in white matter fractional anisotropy, a diffusion tensor imaging metric which reflects microstructural integrity, occurred in the patients compared with controls. In addition, we identified two foci of severe white matter abnormality underlying the right ventral premotor cortex and the medial frontal cortex, two cortical regions involved in higher-level executive control of motor function. Paths connecting different cortical regions with the globus pallidus, the nucleus previously shown to be abnormal on structural imaging in these patients, were generated using probabilistic tractography. The fractional anisotropy within all these tracts was lower in the patient group than controls. Finally, we tested for a relationship between white matter integrity and clinical outcome. We identified a region within the left corticospinal tract in which lower fractional anisotropy was associated with greater functional deficit but this region did not show reduced fractional anisotropy in the overall patient group compared to controls. These patients have widespread white matter damage with greatest severity of damage underlying executive motor areas.
Extrapyramidal syndrome; Methcathinone; Manganese toxicity; diffusion imaging; white matter tracts
To investigate the disruption of neural circuits in the frontal lobes and limbic structures in late‐life depressed patients compared with healthy controls, and to examine the correlation between the degree of microstructural abnormalities of white matter and clinical symptom severity in late‐life depression.
Thirteen patients with late‐life depression and matched control subjects underwent diffusion tensor imaging. Fractional anisotropy (FA), an index of the integrity of white matter tracts, was determined in the white matter of frontal, temporal, and occipital brain regions and the corpus callosum.
A significant reduction was found in white matter FA values of widespread regions of the frontal and temporal lobes of depressed patients. Also, there was some evidence suggesting that white matter FA values of the inferior frontal brain region are inversely related to severity of depression.
These results suggest the possible loss of integrity within frontal and temporal white matter fibre tracts and implicate the orbitofrontal circuit in symptom severity in late‐life depression.
late‐life depression; diffusion tensor imaging; white matter
Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have focused on the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, gray matter structures in the medial temporal lobe. Few studies have investigated the integrity of white matter in patients with AD or MCI. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a MRI technique that allows for the interrogation of the microstructural integrity of white matter. Based on increases in translational diffusion (mean diffusivity: MD) and decreases directional diffusion (fractional anisotropy: FA) damage to white matter can be assessed. Studies have identified regions of increased MD and decreased FA in patients with AD and MCI in all lobes of the brain, as well as medial temporal lobe structures including the hippocampus, entorhinal cortex and parahippocampal white matter. The pattern of white matter integrity disruption tends to follow an anterior to posterior gradient with greater damage noted in posterior regions in AD and MCI. Recent studies have exploited inter-voxel directional similarities to develop models of white matter pathways, and have used these models to assess the integrity of inter-cerebral connections. Particular focus has been applied to the parahippocampal white matter (including the perforant path) and the posterior cingulum. Although many studies have found DTI indicators of impaired white matter in AD and MCI, other studies have failed to detect any differences in MD or FA between the groups, demonstrating the need for large replicative studies. DTI is an evolving technique and advances in its application ought to provide new insights into AD and MCI.
Dementia; fractional anisotropy; mean diffusivity; perforant path; tractography; entorhinal cortex; magnetic resonance imaging; hippocampus; memory; medial temporal lobe
Turner syndrome (TS) is a neurogenetic disorder characterized by impaired spatial, numerical, and motor functioning but relatively spared verbal ability. Results from previous neuroimaging studies suggest that gray matter alterations in parietal and frontal regions may contribute to atypical visuospatial and executive functioning in TS. Recent findings in TS also indicate variations in the shape of parietal gyri and white matter microstructural anomalies of the temporal lobe. Diffusion tensor imaging and structural imaging methods were used to determine whether 10 females with TS and 10 age- and gender-matched control subjects exhibited differences in fractional anisotropy, white matter density, and local brain shape. Relative to controls, females with TS had lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the deep white matter of the left parietal-occipital region extending anteriorly along the superior longitudinal fasciculus into the deep white matter of the frontal lobe. In addition, decreased FA values were located bilaterally in the internal capsule extending into the globus pallidus and in the right prefrontal region. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis showed corresponding white matter density differences in the internal capsules and left centrum semiovale. Tensor-based morphometry analysis indicated that the FA and VBM results were not attributable to differences in the local shape of brain structures. Compared with controls, females with TS had increases in FA values and white matter density in language-related areas of the inferior parietal and temporal lobes. These complementary analyses provide evidence for alterations in white matter pathways that subserve affected and preserved cognitive functions in TS.
DTI; MRI; voxel-based morphometry; Turner syndrome; visual spatial; white matter; sensory motor
Cross-sectional and longitudinal volumetric studies suggest that the corpus callosum (CC) continues to mature structurally from infancy to adulthood. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides in vivo information about the directional organization of white matter microstructure and shows potential for elucidating even more subtle brain changes during adolescent development. We used DTI to examine CC microstructure in healthy right-handed adolescents (n = 92, ages 9–23 years) and correlated the imaging data with motor task performance. The primary DTI variable was fractional anisotropy (FA), which reflects the degree of white matter’s directional organization. Participants completed an alternating finger tapping test to assess interhemispheric transfer and motor speed. Task performance was significantly correlated with age. Analyses of variance indicated that 9–11 year-olds generally performed worse than each of the older groups. Males outperformed females. Significant positive correlations between age and FA were observed in the splenium of the CC, which interconnects posterior cortical regions. Analyses of variance indicated that individuals older than 18 years had significantly higher FA than 9–11 year-olds. FA levels in the genu and splenium correlated significantly with task performance. Regression analyses indicated that bimanual coordination was significantly predicted by age, gender, and splenium FA. Decreases in alternating finger tapping time and increases in FA likely reflect increased myelination in the CC and more efficient neuronal signal transmission. These findings expand upon existing neuroimaging reports of CC development by showing associations between bimanual coordination and white matter microstructural organization in an adolescent sample.
Studies show white matter hyperintensities, regardless of location, primarily affect frontal lobe metabolism and function. This report investigates how regional white matter integrity (measured as fractional anisotropy (FA)) relates to brain metabolism in order to unravel the complex relationship between white matter change and brain metabolism.
To elucidate the relationship between white matter integrity and gray matter metabolism using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in a cohort of 16 subjects ranging from normal to demented (age>55).
Cross-sectional regression analyses using mean FA values from white matter regions underlying the medial prefrontal, inferior-lateral prefrontal, parietal association, and posterior temporal areas and corpus callosum were regressed with glucose metabolism (PET) using SPM2 (p < 0.005, voxel cluster > 100). Regional cerebral glucose metabolism was the primary outcome measure, with our major hypotheses being those hypometabolic cortical regions affected by Alzheimer’s disease would correlate with lower FA of associated tracks.
Our data show inter-regional positive correlations between FA and gray matter metabolism for the prefrontal cortex, temporal and parietal regions. Our results suggest left prefrontal FA is associated with left temporal and parietal metabolism. Further, left posterior temporal FA correlated with left prefrontal metabolism. Finally, bilateral parietal FA correlated with bilateral temporal metabolism.
These regions are associated with the cognitive processes affected in AD and Cerebrovascular Disease, suggesting a link with white matter degeneration and gray matter hypometabolism. Therefore cortical function and white matter degeneration are related in aging and dementia.
PET; DTI; FA; metabolism; white matter; dementia; Alzheimers disease
In healthy adult individuals, late life is a dynamic time of change with respect to the microstructural integrity of white matter tracts. Yet, elderly individuals are generally excluded from diffusion tensor imaging studies in schizophrenia. Therefore, we examined microstructural integrity of frontotemporal and interhemispheric white matter tracts in schizophrenia across the adult lifespan. Diffusion tensor imaging data from 25 younger schizophrenic patients (≤55 years), 25 younger controls, 25 older schizophrenic patients (≥56 years) and 25 older controls were analysed. Patients with schizophrenia in each group were individually matched to controls. Whole-brain tractography and clustering segmentation were employed to isolate white matter tracts. Groups were compared using repeated measures analysis of variance with 12 within-group measures of fractional anisotropy: (left and right) uncinate fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus, cingulum bundle, and genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. For each white matter tract, fractional anisotropy was then regressed against age in patients and controls, and correlation coefficients compared. The main effect of group (F3,92 = 12.2, P < 0.001), and group by tract interactions (F26,832 = 1.68, P = 0.018) were evident for fractional anisotropy values. Younger patients had significantly lower fractional anisotropy than younger controls (Bonferonni-corrected alpha = 0.0042) in the left uncinate fasciculus (t48 = 3.7, P = 0.001) and right cingulum bundle (t48 = 3.6, P = 0.001), with considerable effect size, but the older groups did not differ. Schizophrenic patients did not demonstrate accelerated age-related decline compared with healthy controls in any white matter tract. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the microstructural integrity of frontotemporal white matter tracts across the adult lifespan in schizophrenia. The left uncinate fasciculus and right cingulum bundle are disrupted in younger chronic patients with schizophrenia compared with matched controls, suggesting that these white matter tracts are related to frontotemporal disconnectivity. The absence of accelerated age-related decline, or differences between older community-dwelling patients and controls, suggests that these patients may possess resilience to white matter disruption.
schizophrenia; diffusion tensor; ageing; white matter fibre pathways
Neuropathological and neuroimaging studies have reported significant changes in white matter in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), a recently developed technique, enables the detection of microstructural changes in white matter. It is a noninvasive in vivo technique that assesses water molecules' diffusion in brain tissues. The most commonly used parameters are axial and radial diffusivity reflecting diffusion along and perpendicular to the axons, as well as mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy representing global diffusion. Although the combination of these parameters provides valuable information about the integrity of brain circuits, their physiological meaning still remains controversial. After reviewing the basic principles of DTI, we report on recent contributions that used this technique to explore subtle structural changes in white matter occurring in elderly patients with bipolar disorder and Alzheimer disease.
Previous studies have observed disruptions in brain white and gray matter structure in individuals with type 1 diabetes, and these structural differences have been associated with neurocognitive testing deficiencies. This study investigated the relationship between cerebral cortical thickness reductions and white matter microstructural integrity loss in a group of patients with type 1 diabetes and in healthy control subjects using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Twenty-five subjects with type 1 diabetes for at least 15 years and 25 age- and sex-matched control subjects underwent structural T1 and proton-density and DTI on a 3.0 Tesla scanner. Fractional anisotropy measurements were made on major cerebral white matter tracts, and DTI tractography was performed to identify cortical regions with high connectivity to these tracts.
Posterior white matter tracts with reduced fractional anisotropy (optic radiations, posterior corona radiata, and the splenium region of the corpus callosum) were found to have high connectivity with a number of posterior cortical regions, including the cuneus, precuneus, fusiform, and posterior parietal cortical regions. A significant reduction in cortical thickness in the diabetic group was observed in the regions with high connectivity to the optic radiations and posterior corona radiata tracts (P < 0.05).
The direct relationship between white and gray matter structural pathology has not been previously demonstrated in subjects with long-standing type 1 diabetes. The relationship between posterior white matter microstructural integrity disruption and lower cortical thickness demonstrated using a novel DTI connectivity technique suggests a common or interrelated pathophysiological mechanism in type 1 diabetes.
Two previous studies have utilized Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to examine microstructural integrity in cocaine abuse and found evidence of brain abnormalities in white matter.
Using anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), DTI, and clinical evaluation, the macrostructural and microstructural correlates of cocaine abuse were investigated.
21 men and women (mean age 42.5, mean 18.9 years of cocaine use) and 21 age/gender-matched controls were included. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was measured in frontal white matter ROIs. Gray and white matter volumes in superior and inferior frontal regions were compared.
DTI data revealed that cocaine users had lower FA than controls, specifically in inferior frontal white matter. FA differences were not seen in other areas. Significant volumetric differences were not seen, but both grey and white matter inferior frontal volumes trended toward smaller in the cocaine group. The data suggested that duration of use was associated with decreased grey and white matter volumes. FA and grey matter volume were correlated in cocaine users.
Both macrostructural and microstructural abnormalities were seen in a group of cocaine abusers. Length of cocaine use was associated with severity of the brain abnormalities. Future studies of white matter tissue integrity are warranted including examination of the relationship between DTI measures and traditional volumetric measures.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI); Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); brain; cocaine; abuse; dependence
Recent investigations into the neural basis of elite sporting performance have focused on whether cortical activity might characterize individual differences in ability. However, very little is understood about how changes in brain structure might contribute to individual differences in expert motor control. We compared the behavior and brain structure of healthy controls with a group of karate black belts, an expert group who are able to perform rapid, complex movements that require years of training. Using 3D motion tracking, we investigated whether the ability to control ballistic arm movements was associated with differences in white matter microstructure. We found that karate experts are better able than novices to coordinate the timing of inter-segmental joint velocities. Diffusion tensor imaging revealed significant differences between the groups in the microstructure of white matter in the superior cerebellar peduncles (SCPs) and primary motor cortex—brain regions that are critical to the voluntary control of movement. Motor coordination, the amount of experience, and the age at which training began were all associated with individual differences in white matter integrity in the cerebellum within the karate groups. These findings suggest a role for the white matter pathways of the SCPs in motor expertise.
cerebellum; diffusion tensor imaging; expertise; individual differences; motor control
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques have made it possible to investigate white matter plasticity in humans. Changes in DTI measures, principally increases in fractional anisotropy (FA), have been observed following training programs as diverse as juggling, meditation, and working memory. Here, we sought to test whether three months of reasoning training could alter white matter microstructure. We recruited participants (n = 23) who were enrolled in a course to prepare for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a test that places strong demands on reasoning skills, as well as age- and IQ-matched controls planning to take the LSAT in the future (n = 22). DTI data were collected at two scan sessions scheduled three months apart. In trained participants but not controls, we observed decreases in radial diffusivity (RD) in white matter connecting frontal cortices, and in mean diffusivity (MD) within frontal and parietal lobe white matter. Further, participants exhibiting larger gains on the LSAT exhibited greater decreases in MD in the right internal capsule. In summary, reasoning training altered multiple measures of white matter structure in young adults. While the cellular underpinnings are unknown, these results provide evidence of experience-dependent white matter changes that may not be limited to myelination.
cognitive training; fluid reasoning; plasticity; diffusion-weighted imaging; test preparation
Background and Purpose
Despite the critical importance of the corpus callosum (CC) to the connection between brain hemispheres, little is known about the independent contribution of degenerative and vascular processes to regional changes in the microstructural integrity of the CC. Here, we examine these changes in subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and in cognitively normal elderly adults.
We used three-dimensional brain MRI with diffusion tensor imaging in 47 AD, 77 MCI, and 107 cognitively normal subjects, and calculated mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values for four CC regions corresponding to four homologous regions of cortical gray matter (GM). To assess vascular and degenerative processes, we also measured cortical GM and white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume in corresponding regions, along with evaluation of their vascular risk.
We found that GM volume in anterior and posterior regions was significantly related to FA findings in the corresponding regions of the CC for all three diagnostic groups. Independent of GM volume, frontal WMH volume was also associated with FA values in the corresponding CC regions, but posterior WMH volume was not. Vascular risk was associated with FA of most CC regions, while diagnosis for cognitive state was associated only with FA of the anterior and posterior CC regions.
We found differential region-specific associations between degenerative and vascular processes and the structural integrity of the CC across the spectrum of cognitive ability. Based on these results, we propose a model to explain regional disruption in the interhemispheric connection.
Alzheimer's disease; cerebrovascular disorders; mild cognitive impairment; corpus callosum; diffusion tensor imaging
Methamphetamine (METH) users showed structural and chemical abnormalities on magnetic resonance (MRI) studies, particularly in the frontal and basal ganglia brain regions. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) may provide further insights regarding the microstructural changes in METH users. We investigated diffusion tensor measures in frontal white matter and basal ganglia of 30 adult METH users and 30 control subjects using a 3 T MR scanner. Compared with healthy control subjects, METH users showed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in right frontal white matter, and higher apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in left caudate and bilateral putamen. Higher left putamen ADC was associated with earlier initiation of METH use, greater daily amounts, and a higher cumulative lifetime dose. Similarly, higher right putamen ADC was associated with greater daily amounts and a higher cumulative lifetime dose. The lower FA in the right frontal white matter suggests axonal injury in these METH users. The higher ADC in the basal ganglia suggests greater inflammation or less myelination in these brain regions of those with younger age of first METH use and greater METH usage.
MRI; Diffusion tensor imaging; Frontal lobe; Basal ganglia; Apparent diffusion coefficient
Structural brain change and concomitant cognitive decline are the seemingly unavoidable escorts of aging. Despite accumulating studies detailing the effects of age on the brain and cognition, the relationship between white matter features and cognitive function in aging have only recently received attention and remain incompletely understood. White matter microstructure can be measured with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), but whether DTI can provide unique information on brain aging that is not explained by white matter volume is not known. In the current study, the relationship between white matter microstructure, age and neuropsychological function was assessed using DTI in a statistical framework that employed white matter volume as a voxel-wise covariate in a sample of 120 healthy adults across a broad age range (18–83). Memory function and executive function were modestly correlated with the DTI measures while processing speed showed the greatest extent of correlation. The results suggest that age-related white matter alterations underlie age-related declines in cognitive function. Mean diffusivity and fractional anisotropy in several white matter brain regions exhibited a non-linear relationship with age, while white matter volume showed a primarily linear relationship with age. The complex relationships between cognition, white matter microstructure, and white matter volume still require further investigation.
Previous studies have reported continued focal gray matter loss after the clinical onset of schizophrenia. Longitudinal assessments in chronic illness, of white matter in particular, have been less conclusive.
We used diffusion-tensor and structural magnetic resonance imaging in 16 healthy subjects and 49 chronic schizophrenia patients, subdivided into good-outcome (n=23) and poor-outcome (n=26) groups, scanned twice 4 years apart. Fractional anisotropy, gray matter and white matter volumes were parcellated into the Brodmann’s areas and entered into multiway ANCOVAs.
At baseline, schizophrenia patients had 1) lower anisotropy in frontoparietal white matter, 2) larger posterior frontal white matter volumes, and 3) smaller frontal, temporal, and parietal gray matter volumes. On follow-up, healthy subjects showed a more pronounced 1) decline in anisotropy, 2) expansion of regional white matter volumes, and 3) reduction in regional gray matter volumes than schizophrenia patients. Good-outcome patients showed a more pronounced decline in white matter anisotropy and a less pronounced increase in white matter volumes than poor-outcome patients. Poor-outcome patients displayed a greater gray matter loss throughout the brain than good-outcome patients.
In the chronic phase of the illness, longitudinal changes in both gray and white matter are in the direction of an effacement of between-group differences among schizophrenia patients and healthy subjects. Similarly, preexisting white matter differences between good-outcome and poor-outcome patients diminish over time. In contrast, gray matter volumes in poor-outcome patients continue to decline more rapidly than in patients with good outcome. These patterns are consistent with earlier onset of aging-associated changes in schizophrenia.
Kraepelinian schizophrenia; poor outcome; anisotropy; white matter; illness progression.
White matter microstructure, known to undergo significant developmental transformation, is abnormal in bipolar disorder (BD). Available evidence suggests that white matter deviation may be more pronounced in pediatric than adult onset BD. This study aimed to examine how white matter microstructure deviates from a typical maturational trajectory in BD.
Fractional anisotropy (FA) was measured in 35 individuals presenting with first episode BD (type I) and 46 healthy controls (HC) (aged 9–42) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Patients were medication free and close to illness onset at the time of DTI scans. Tract based spatial statistics were used to examine the center of white matter tracts, and FA was extracted from nine tracts of interest. Axial, radial, and mean diffusivity were examined in post-hoc analyses.
The left anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) showed significantly lower FA in pediatric than adult onset BD. The lower FA in BD was due primarily to greater radial rather than a decrease in axial diffusivity.
ALIC connects the frontal lobes with archistriatum, thalamus, and medial temporal regions, and alteration in these pathways may contribute to mood dysregulation in BD. Abnormalities in this pathway appear to be associated with an earlier onset of illness and thus may reflect a greater liability for illness.
diffusion tensor imaging; development; limbic system; anterior limb of internal capsule; affect network
We investigated the relation between cognitive processing speed and structural properties of white matter pathways via convergent imaging studies in healthy and brain-injured groups. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was applied to diffusion tensor imaging data from thirty-nine young healthy subjects in order to investigate the relation between processing speed, as assessed with the Digit-Symbol subtest from WAIS-III, and fractional anisotropy, an index of microstructural organization of white matter. Digit-Symbol performance was positively correlated with fractional anisotropy of white matter in the parietal and temporal lobes bilaterally and in the left middle frontal gyrus. Fiber tractography indicated that these regions are consistent with the trajectories of the superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi. In a second investigation, we assessed the effect of white matter damage on processing speed using voxel-based lesion symptom mapping (VLSM) analysis of data from seventy-two patients with left hemisphere strokes. Lesions in left parietal white matter, together with cortical lesions in supramarginal and angular gyri were associated with impaired performance. These findings suggest that cognitive processing speed, as assessed by the Digit-Symbol test, is closely related to the structural integrity of white matter tracts associated with parietal and temporal cortices and left middle frontal gyrus. Further, fiber tractography applied to VBM results and the patient findings suggest that the superior longitudinal fasciculus, a major tract subserving fronto-parietal integration, makes a prominent contribution to processing speed.
Cognitive processing speed; diffusion tensor imaging; individual differences; magnetic resonance imaging; neural pathways; neuropsychology
White matter microstructure is under strong genetic control, yet it is largely unknown how genetic influences change from childhood into adulthood. In one of the largest brain mapping studies ever performed, we determined whether the genetic control over white matter architecture depends on age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), and intelligence quotient (IQ). We assessed white matter integrity voxelwise using diffusion tensor imaging at high magnetic field (4-Tesla), in 705 twins and their siblings (age range 12–29; 290 M/415 F). White matter integrity was quantified using a widely accepted measure, fractional anisotropy (FA). We fitted gene-environment interaction models pointwise, to visualize brain regions where age, sex, SES and IQ modulate heritability of fiber integrity. We hypothesized that environmental factors would start to outweigh genetic factors during late childhood and adolescence. Genetic influences were greater in adolescence versus adulthood, and greater in males than in females. Socioeconomic status significantly interacted with genes that affect fiber integrity: heritability was higher in those with higher SES. In people with above-average IQ, genetic factors explained over 800% of the observed FA variability in the thalamus, genu, posterior internal capsule, and superior corona radiata. In those with below-average IQ, however, only around 40% FA variability in the same regions was attributable to genetic factors. Genes affect fiber integrity, but their effects vary with age, sex, SES and IQ. Gene-environment interactions are vital to consider in the search for specific genetic polymorphisms that affect brain integrity and connectivity.
genetics; cognition; twins; white matter; diffusion imaging; gene-environment interaction
Greater loss in structural integrity of the ipsilesional corticospinal tract (CST) is associated with poorer motor outcome in hemiparetic stroke patients. Animal models of stroke have demonstrated that structural remodeling of white matter in the ipsilesional and contralesional hemispheres is associated with improved motor recovery. Accordingly, motor recovery in stroke patients may relate to the relative strength of CST degeneration and remodeling. This study examined the relationship between microstructural status of brain white matter tracts, indexed by the fractional anisotropy (FA) metric derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data, and motor skill of the stroke-affected hand in chronic stroke patients. Voxelwise analysis revealed that motor skill significantly and positively correlated with FA of the ipsilesional and contralesional CST in the patients. Additional voxelwise analyses showed that patients with poorer motor skill had reduced FA of bilateral CST compared to normal control subjects whereas patients with better motor skill had elevated FA of bilateral CST compared to controls. These findings were confirmed using a DTI-tractography method applied to the CST in both hemispheres. The results of this study suggest that the level of motor skill recovery achieved in hemiparetic stroke patients relates to microstructural status of the CST in both the ipsilesional and contralesional hemispheres, which may reflect the net effect of degeneration and remodeling of bilateral CST.
diffusion tensor imaging; anisotropy; stroke recovery; hemiparesis; tractography; white matter