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.
Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies in young patients with bipolar disorder indicated the presence of grey matter concentration changes as well as microstructural alterations in white matter in various neocortical areas and the corpus callosum. Whether these structural changes are also present in elderly patients with bipolar disorder with long-lasting clinical evolution remains unclear.
We performed a prospective MRI study of consecutive elderly, euthymic patients with bipolar disorder and healthy, elderly controls. We conducted a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis and a tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis to assess fractional anisotropy and longitudinal, radial and mean diffusivity derived by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
We included 19 patients with bipolar disorder and 47 controls in our study. Fractional anisotropy was the most sensitive DTI marker and decreased significantly in the ventral part of the corpus callosum in patients with bipolar disorder. Longitudinal, radial and mean diffusivity showed no significant between-group differences. Grey matter concentration was reduced in patients with bipolar disorder in the right anterior insula, head of the caudate nucleus, nucleus accumbens, ventral putamen and frontal orbital cortex. Conversely, there was no grey matter concentration or fractional anisotropy increase in any brain region in patients with bipolar disorder compared with controls.
The major limitation of our study is the small number of patients with bipolar disorder.
Our data document the concomitant presence of grey matter concentration decreases in the anterior limbic areas and the reduced fibre tract coherence in the corpus callosum of elderly patients with long-lasting bipolar disorder.
Cigarette smoking is highly prevalent in the general population but the effects of chronic smoking on brain structures are still unclear. Previous studies have found mixed results regarding regional grey matter abnormalities in smokers. To characterize both grey and white matter changes in heavy male smokers, we investigated 16 heavy smokers and 16 matched healthy controls, using both univariate voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and multivariate pattern classification analysis. Compared with controls, heavy smokers exhibited smaller grey matter volume in cerebellum, as well as larger white matter volume in putamen, anterior and middle cingulate cortex. Further, the spatial patterns of grey matter or white matter both discriminated smokers from controls in these regions as well as in other brain regions. Our findings demonstrated volume abnormalities not only in the grey matter but also in the white matter in heavy male smokers. The multivariate analysis suggests that chronic smoking may be associated with volume alternations in broader brain regions than those identified in VBM analysis. These results may better our understanding of the neurobiological consequence of smoking and inform smoking treatment.
There is increasing evidence that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) lie on a clinical, pathological and genetic continuum with patients of one disease exhibiting features of the other. Nevertheless, to date, the underlying grey matter and white matter changes across the ALS-FTD disease continuum have not been explored. In this study fifty-three participants with ALS (n = 10), ALS-FTD (n = 10) and behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD; n = 15) as well as controls (n = 18), underwent detailed clinical assessment plus structural imaging using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analysis of magnetic resonance brain imaging to examine grey and white matter differences and commonalities across the continuum. Importantly, patient groups were matched for age, education, gender and disease duration. VBM and DTI results showed that changes in the ALS group were confined mainly to the motor cortex and anterior cingulate as well as their underlying white matter tracts. ALS-FTD and bvFTD showed widespread grey matter and white matter changes involving frontal and temporal lobes. Extensive prefrontal cortex changes emerged as a marker for bvFTD compared to other subtypes, while ALS-FTD could be distinguished from ALS by additional temporal lobe grey and white matter changes. Finally, ALS could be mainly distinguished from the other two groups by corticospinal tract degeneration. The present study shows for the first time that FTD and ALS overlap in anterior cingulate, motor cortex and related white matter tract changes across the whole continuum. Nevertheless, frontal and temporal atrophy as well as corticospinal tract degeneration emerged as marker for subtype classification, which will inform future diagnosis and target disease management across the continuum.
A comprehensive characterisation of grey and white matter changes in progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), the second most common extrapyramidal syndrome after Parkinson disease, is still not available.
To evaluate grey and white matter changes in mild PSP patients by voxel based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), respectively.
14 mild PSP patients and 14 healthy controls entered the study and underwent a clinical and neuropsychological evaluation according with a standardised assessment. Each subject had a structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study. Processing analysis of MRI data was carried out according to optimised VBM and fractional anisotropy was determined.
Compared with the controls, in PSP patients VBM analysis showed a significant clusters of reduced grey matter in premotor cortex, frontal operculum, anterior insula, hippocampus, and parahippocampal gyrus, bilaterally. With regard to subcortical brain regions, the pulvinar, dorsomedial and anterior nuclei of the thalamus, and superior and inferior culliculum were affected bilaterally. A bilateral decrease in fractional anisotropy in superior longitudinal fasciculus, anterior part of corpus callosum, arcuate fascicolus, posterior thalamic radiations, and internal capsule, probably involving the cortico‐bulbar tracts, was present in PSP patients.
These data provide evidence for both grey and white matter degeneration in PSP from the early disease stage. These structural changes suggest that atrophy of cortical and subcortical structures and neurodegeneration of specific fibre tracts contribute to neurological deficits in PSP.
progressive supranuclear palsy; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging
Normal ageing is associated with characteristic changes in brain microstructure. Although in vivo neuroimaging captures spatial and temporal patterns of age-related changes of anatomy at the macroscopic scale, our knowledge of the underlying (patho)physiological processes at cellular and molecular levels is still limited. The aim of this study is to explore brain tissue properties in normal ageing using quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) alongside conventional morphological assessment. Using a whole-brain approach in a cohort of 26 adults, aged 18–85 years, we performed voxel-based morphometric (VBM) analysis and voxel-based quantification (VBQ) of diffusion tensor, magnetization transfer (MT), R1, and R2* relaxation parameters. We found age-related reductions in cortical and subcortical grey matter volume paralleled by changes in fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), MT and R2*. The latter were regionally specific depending on their differential sensitivity to microscopic tissue properties. VBQ of white matter revealed distinct anatomical patterns of age-related change in microstructure. Widespread and profound reduction in MT contrasted with local FA decreases paralleled by MD increases. R1 reductions and R2* increases were observed to a smaller extent in overlapping occipito-parietal white matter regions. We interpret our findings, based on current biophysical models, as a fingerprint of age-dependent brain atrophy and underlying microstructural changes in myelin, iron deposits and water. The VBQ approach we present allows for systematic unbiased exploration of the interaction between imaging parameters and extends current methods for detection of neurodegenerative processes in the brain. The demonstrated parameter-specific distribution patterns offer insights into age-related brain structure changes in vivo and provide essential baseline data for studying disease against a background of healthy ageing.
►High-resolution FLASH-based parameter mapping is suitable for clinical purposes. ►Patterns of age-dependent parameter changes reflect specificity to tissue properties. ►Combining VBM and VBQ offers complementary information about brain architecture.
Voxel-based morphometry; Voxel-based quantification; Magnetization transfer; Mean diffusivity; Fractional anisotropy; DTI; R1; R2*
Even though uncomplicated alcoholics may likely have episodic memory deficits, discrepancies exist regarding to the integrity of brain regions that underlie this function in healthy subjects. Possible relationships between episodic memory and 1) brain microstructure assessed by magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), 2) brain volumes assessed by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) were investigated in uncomplicated, detoxified alcoholics.
Diffusion and morphometric analyses were performed in 24 alcohol dependent men without neurological or somatic complications and in 24 healthy men. The mean apparent coefficient of diffusion (ADC) and grey matter volumes were measured in the whole brain. Episodic memory performance was assessed using a French version of the Free and Cued Selective Reminding Test (FCSRT). Correlation analyses between verbal episodic memory, brain microstructure, and brain volumes were carried out using SPM2 software.
In those with alcohol dependence, higher ADC was detected mainly in frontal, temporal and parahippocampal regions, and in the cerebellum. In alcoholics, regions with higher ADC typically also had lower grey matter volume. Low verbal episodic memory performance in alcoholism was associated with higher mean ADC in parahippocampal areas, in frontal cortex and in the left temporal cortex; no correlation was found between regional volumes and episodic memory scores. Regression analyses for the control group were not significant.
These findings support the hypothesis that regional microstructural but no macrostructural alteration of the brain might be responsible, at least in part, for episodic memory deficits in alcohol dependence.
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.
Dystonia is a hyperkinetic movement disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive twisting movements. The anatomical structures and pathways implicated in its pathogenesis and their relationships to the neurophysiological paradigms of abnormal surround inhibition, maladaptive plasticity, and impaired sensorimotor integration remain unclear.
We review the use of high-resolution structural brain imaging using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques for evaluating brain changes in primary torsion dystonia and their relationships to the pathophysiology of this disorder.
A PubMed search was conducted to identify relevant literature.
VBM and DTI studies produced somewhat conflicting results across different forms of primary dystonia and reported increases, decreases, or both in gray matter volume and white matter integrity. However, despite the discrepancies, these studies are consistent in revealing brain abnormalities in dystonia that extend beyond the basal ganglia and involve the sensorimotor cortex and cerebellum.
Although limited to date, structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies combined with functional brain imaging and neurophysiological modalities begin to establish structural-functional relationships at different levels of the abnormal basal ganglia, cortical, and cerebellar networks and provide clues into the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie primary dystonia. Cross-disciplinary studies are needed for further investigations of the interplay between structural-functional brain abnormalities and environmental and genetic risk factors in dystonia patients.
Primary dystonia; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging; MRI
Evidence supports the notion that the fusiform gyrus (FG), as an integral part of the ventral occipitotemporal junction, is involved widely in cognitive processes as perceiving faces, objects, places or words, and this region also might represent the visual form of an abacus in the abacus-based mental calculation process. The current study uses a combined voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) analysis to test whether long-term abacus training could induce structural changes in the left FG and in the white matter (WM) tracts distribution connecting with this region in school children. We found that, abacus-trained children exhibited significant smaller gray matter (GM) volume than controls in the left FG. And the connectivity mapping identified left forceps major as a key pathway connecting left FG with other brain areas in the trained group, but not in the controls. Furthermore, mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values within left forceps major were significantly increased in the trained group. Interestingly, a significant negative correlation was found in the trained group between the GM volume in left FG and the mean FA value in left forceps major, suggesting an inverse effect of the reported GM and WM structural changes. In the control group, a positive correlation between left FG GM volume and tract FA was found as well. This analysis visualized the group level differences in GM volume, FA and fiber tract between the abacus-trained children and the controls, and provided the first evidence that GM volume change in the left FG is intimately linked with the micro-structural properties of the left forceps major tracts. The present results demonstrate the structural changes in the left FG from the intracortical GM to the subcortical WM regions and provide insights into the neural mechanism of structural plasticity induced by abacus training.
abacus training; fusiform gyrus; voxel-based morphometry; fiber tracking; inverse effect; children
Strabismus is a disorder in which the eyes are misaligned. Persistent strabismus can lead to stereopsis impairment. The effect of strabismus on human brain is not unclear. The present study is to investigate whether the brain white structures of comitant exotropia patients are impaired using combined T1-weighted imaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Thirteen patients with comitant strabismus and twelve controls underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with acquisition of T1-weighted and diffusion tensor images. T1-weighted images were used to analyze the change in volume of white matter using optimized voxel-based morphology (VBM) and diffusion tensor images were used to detect the change in white matter fibers using voxel-based analysis of DTI in comitant extropia patients. VBM analysis showed that in adult strabismus, white matter volumes were smaller in the right middle occipital gyrus, right occipital lobe/cuneus, right supramarginal gyrus, right cingulate gyrus, right frontal lobe/sub-gyral, right inferior temporal gyrus, left parahippocampa gyrus, left cingulate gyrus, left occipital lobe/cuneus, left middle frontal gyrus, left inferior parietal lobule, and left postcentral gyrus, while no brain region with greater white matter volume was found. Voxel-based analysis of DTI showed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the right middle occipital gyrus and right supramarginal gyrus in strabismus patients, while brain region with increased FA value was found in the right inferior frontal gyrus.
By combining VBM and voxel-based analysis of DTI results, the study suggests that the dorsal visual pathway was abnormal or impaired in patients with comitant exotropia.
Brain tissue changes in autism spectrum disorders seem to be rather subtle and widespread than anatomically distinct. Therefore a multimodal, whole brain imaging technique appears to be an appropriate approach to investigate whether alterations in white and gray matter integrity relate to consistent changes in functional resting state connectivity in individuals with high functioning autism (HFA). We applied diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) to assess differences in brain structure and function between 12 individuals with HFA (mean age 35.5, SD 11.4, 9 male) and 12 healthy controls (mean age 33.3, SD 9.0, 8 male). Psychological measures of empathy and emotionality were obtained and correlated with the most significant DTI, VBM and fcMRI findings. We found three regions of convergent structural and functional differences between HFA participants and controls. The right temporo-parietal junction area and the left frontal lobe showed decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) values along with decreased functional connectivity and a trend towards decreased gray matter volume. The bilateral superior temporal gyrus displayed significantly decreased functional connectivity that was accompanied by the strongest trend of gray matter volume decrease in the temporal lobe of HFA individuals. FA decrease in the right temporo-parietal region was correlated with psychological measurements of decreased emotionality. In conclusion, our results indicate common sites of structural and functional alterations in higher order association cortex areas and may therefore provide multimodal imaging support to the long-standing hypothesis of autism as a disorder of impaired higher-order multisensory integration.
Poor mathematical abilities adversely affect academic and career opportunities. The neuroanatomical basis of developmental dyscalculia (DD), a specific learning deficit with prevalence rates exceeding 5%, is poorly understood. We used structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine macro- and micro-structural impairments in 7- to 9-year-old children with DD, compared to a group of typically developing (TD) children matched on age, gender, intelligence, reading abilities and working memory capacity. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) revealed reduced grey matter (GM) bilaterally in superior parietal lobule, intra-parietal sulcus, fusiform gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus and right anterior temporal cortex in children with DD. VBM analysis also showed reduced white matter (WM) volume in right temporal-parietal cortex. DTI revealed reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) in this WM region, pointing to significant right hemisphere micro-structural impairments. Furthermore, FA in this region was correlated with numerical operations but not verbal mathematical reasoning or word reading. Atlas-based tract mapping identified the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and caudal forceps major as key pathways impaired in DD. DTI tractography suggests that long-range WM projection fibers linking the right fusiform gyrus with temporal-parietal WM are a specific source of vulnerability in DD. Network and classification analysis suggest that DD in children may be characterized by multiple dysfunctional circuits arising from a core WM deficit. Our findings link GM and WM abnormalities in children with DD and they point to macro- and micro-structural abnormalities in right hemisphere temporal-parietal WM, and pathways associated with it, as key neuroanatomical correlates of DD.
mathematical disability; white matter; grey matter; diffusion tensor imaging; voxel-based morphometry; development
The aim of this study was to investigate the extent of cortical and subcortical lesions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using, in combination, voxel based diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and voxel based morphometry (VBM). We included 15 patients with definite or probable ALS and 25 healthy volunteers. Patients were assessed using the revised ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS‐R). In patients, reduced fractional anisotropy was found in bilateral corticospinal tracts, the left insula/ventrolateral premotor cortex, the right parietal cortex and the thalamus, which correlated with the ALSFRS‐R. Increased mean diffusivity (MD) was found bilaterally in the motor cortex, the ventrolateral premotor cortex/insula, the hippocampal formations and the right superior temporal gyrus, which did not correlate with the ALSFRS‐R. VBM analysis showed no changes in white matter but widespread volume decreases in grey matter in several regions exhibiting MD abnormalities. In ALS patients, our results show that subcortical lesions extend beyond the corticospinal tract and are clinically relevant.
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.
Neuroimaging studies have found evidence of altered brain structure and function in schizophrenia, but have had complex findings regarding the localization of abnormality. We applied multimodal imaging (voxel-based morphometry (VBM), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) combined with tractography) to 32 chronic schizophrenic patients and matched healthy controls. At a conservative threshold of P=0.01 corrected, structural and functional imaging revealed overlapping regions of abnormality in the medial frontal cortex. DTI found that white matter abnormality predominated in the anterior corpus callosum, and analysis of the anatomical connectivity of representative seed regions again implicated fibres projecting to the medial frontal cortex. There was also evidence of convergent abnormality in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, although here the laterality was less consistent across techniques. The medial frontal region identified by these three imaging techniques corresponds to the anterior midline node of the default mode network, a brain system which is believed to support internally directed thought, a state of watchfulness, and/or the maintenance of one's sense of self, and which is of considerable current interest in neuropsychiatric disorders.
schizophrenia; voxel-based morphometry; fMRI; diffusion tensor imaging; default mode network; anterior cingulate cortex
The morphology of cortical grey matter is commonly assessed using T1-weighted MRI together with automated computerised methods such as voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and cortical thickness measures. In the presented study we investigate how grey matter changes identified using voxel-based cortical thickness (VBCT) measures compare with local grey matter volume changes identified using VBM. We use data from a healthy aging population to perform the comparison, focusing on brain regions where age-related changes have been observed in previous studies. Our results show that overall, in healthy aging, VBCT and VBM yield very consistent results but VBCT provides a more sensitive measure of age-associated decline in grey matter compared with VBM. Our findings suggest that while VBCT selectively investigates cortical thickness, VBM provides a mixed measure of grey matter including cortical surface area or cortical folding, as well as cortical thickness. We therefore propose that used together, these techniques can separate the underlying grey matter changes, highlighting the utility of combining these complementary methods.
Morphometry; VBM; Cortical thickness; Aging
Structural brain imaging is assumed to be a key method to elucidate the underlying neuropathology of bipolar disorder. However, magnetic resonance imaging studies using region of interest analysis and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) revealed quite inconsistent findings. Hence, there is no clear evidence so far for core regions of cortical or subcortical structural abnormalities in bipolar disorder. The aim of this study was to investigate grey and white matter volumes in a large sample of patients with bipolar I disorder.
Thirty-five patients with bipolar I disorder and 32 healthy controls matched with respect to gender, handedness and education participated in the study. MRI scanning was performed and an optimized VBM analysis was conducted.
We could not observe any significant differences of grey or white matter volumes between patients with bipolar disorder and healthy control subjects. Additional analyses did not reveal significant correlations between grey or white matter volume with number of manic or depressive episodes, duration of illness, existence of psychotic symptoms, and treatment with lithium or antipsychotics.
With this VBM study we were not able to identify core regions of structural abnormalities in bipolar disorder.
grey matter volume; white matter volume; bipolar disorder; VBM; MRI
The brain regions functionally engaged in motor sequence performance are well-established, but the structural characteristics of these regions and the fiber pathways involved have been less well studied. In addition, relatively few studies have combined multiple magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and behavioral performance measures in the same sample. Therefore, the current study used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), probabilistic tractography, and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to determine the structural correlates of skilled motor performance. Further, we compared these findings with fMRI results in the same sample. We correlated final performance and rate of improvement measures on a temporal motor sequence task (TMST) with skeletonized fractional anisotropy (FA) and whole brain gray matter (GM) volume. Final synchronization performance was negatively correlated with FA in white matter (WM) underlying bilateral sensorimotor cortex—an effect that was mediated by a positive correlation with radial diffusivity. Multi-fiber tractography indicated that this region contained crossing fibers from the corticospinal tract (CST) and superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). The identified SLF pathway linked parietal and auditory cortical regions that have been shown to be functionally engaged in this task. Thus, we hypothesize that enhanced synchronization performance on this task may be related to greater fiber integrity of the SLF. Rate of improvement on synchronization was positively correlated with GM volume in cerebellar lobules HVI and V—regions that showed training-related decreases in activity in the same sample. Taken together, our results link individual differences in brain structure and function to motor sequence performance on the same task. Further, our study illustrates the utility of using multiple MR measures and analysis techniques to specify the interpretation of structural findings.
superior longitudinal fasciculus; individual differences; motor sequence performance; fractional anisotropy; diffusion tensor imaging; gray matter volume
Myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2 are progressive multisystemic disorders with potential brain involvement. We compared 22 myotonic dystrophy type 1 and 22 myotonic dystrophy type 2 clinically and neuropsychologically well-characterized patients and a corresponding healthy control group using structural brain magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T (T1/T2/diffusion-weighted). Voxel-based morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging with tract-based spatial statistics were applied for voxel-wise analysis of cerebral grey and white matter affection (Pcorrected < 0.05). We further examined the association of structural brain changes with clinical and neuropsychological data. White matter lesions rated visually were more prevalent and severe in myotonic dystrophy type 1 compared with controls, with frontal white matter most prominently affected in both disorders, and temporal lesions restricted to myotonic dystrophy type 1. Voxel-based morphometry analyses demonstrated extensive white matter involvement in all cerebral lobes, brainstem and corpus callosum in myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2, while grey matter decrease (cortical areas, thalamus, putamen) was restricted to myotonic dystrophy type 1. Accordingly, we found more prominent white matter affection in myotonic dystrophy type 1 than myotonic dystrophy type 2 by diffusion tensor imaging. Association fibres throughout the whole brain, limbic system fibre tracts, the callosal body and projection fibres (e.g. internal/external capsules) were affected in myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2. Central motor pathways were exclusively impaired in myotonic dystrophy type 1. We found mild executive and attentional deficits in our patients when neuropsychological tests were corrected for manual motor dysfunctioning. Regression analyses revealed associations of white matter affection with several clinical parameters in both disease entities, but not with neuropsychological performance. We showed that depressed mood and fatigue were more prominent in patients with myotonic dystrophy type 1 with less white matter affection (early disease stages), contrary to patients with myotonic dystrophy type 2. Thus, depression in myotonic dystrophies might be a reactive adjustment disorder rather than a direct consequence of structural brain damage. Associations of white matter affection with age/disease duration as well as patterns of cerebral water diffusion parameters pointed towards an ongoing process of myelin destruction and/or axonal loss in our cross-sectional study design. Our data suggest that both myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2 are serious white matter diseases with prominent callosal body and limbic system affection. White matter changes dominated the extent of grey matter changes, which might argue against Wallerian degeneration as the major cause of white matter affection in myotonic dystrophies.
myotonic dystrophy; neuropsychology; MRI; DTI; VBM
Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) is a hypothesis-free, whole-brain, voxel-by-voxel analytic method that attempts to compare imaging data between populations. Schizophrenia studies have utilized this method to localize differences in Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) derived Fractional Anisotropy (FA), a measure of white matter integrity, between patients and healthy controls. The number of publications has grown, although it is unclear how reliable and reproducible this method is, given the subtle white matter abnormalities expected in schizophrenia. Here we analyze and combine results from 23 studies published to date that use VBM to study schizophrenia in order to evaluate the reproducibility of this method in DTI analysis. Coordinates of each region reported in DTI VBM studies published thus far in schizophrenia were plotted onto a Montreal Neurological Institute atlas, and their anatomical locations were recorded. Results indicated that the reductions of FA in patients with schizophrenia were scattered across the brain. Moreover, even the most consistently reported regions were reported independently in less than 35% of the papers studied. Other instances of reduced FA were replicated at an even lower rate. Our findings demonstrate striking inconsistency, with none of the regions reported in much more than a third of the published papers. Poor replication rate suggests that the application of VBM to DTI data may not be the optimal way for studying the subtle microstructural abnormalities that are being hypothesized in schizophrenia.
Diffusion tensor imaging; meta-analysis; chronic schizophrenia; first-episode schizophrenia; fractional anisotropy
Previous work suggests that spatial expertise in licensed London taxi drivers is associated with differences in hippocampal grey matter volume relative to IQ-matched control subjects. Here we examined whether non-spatial expertise is associated with similar hippocampal grey matter effects. We compared medical doctors who, like taxi drivers, acquire a vast amount of knowledge over many years, with IQ-matched control subjects who had no tertiary education. Whole brain analysis of structural MRI scans using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) failed to identify any differences in grey matter volume between the groups, including in the hippocampus. Moreover, amount of medical experience, which ranged from 0.5-22.5 years, did not correlate with grey matter volume in the hippocampus or elsewhere in the brain. We conclude that intensively acquiring a large amount of knowledge over many years is not invariably associated with hippocampal grey matter volume differences. Instead it would seem that hippocampal grey matter volume effects are more likely to be observed when the knowledge acquired concerns a complex and detailed large-scale spatial layout.
hippocampus; space; taxi drivers; VBM; memory
Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) is commonly used to study systematic differences in brain morphology from patients with various disorders, usually by comparisons with control subjects. It has often been suggested, however, that VBM is also sensitive to variations in composition in grey matter. The nature of the grey matter changes identified with VBM is still poorly understood. The aim of the current study was to determine whether grey matter histopathological measurements of neuronal tissue or gliosis influenced grey matter probability values that are used for VBM analyses.
Grey matter probability values (obtained using both SPM5 and FSL-FAST) were correlated with neuronal density, and field fraction of NeuN and GFAP immunopositivity in a grey matter region of interest in the middle temporal gyrus, in 19 patients undergoing temporal lobe resection for refractory epilepsy.
There were no significant correlations between any quantitative neuropathological measure and grey matter probability values in normal-appearing grey matter using either segmentation program.
The lack of correlation between grey matter probability values and the cortical neuropathological measures in normal-appearing grey matter suggests that intrinsic cortical changes of the type we have measured do not influence grey matter probability maps used for VBM analyses.
Epilepsy; FSL; MRI; Neuronal density; SPM; Voxel-based morphometry
The neural correlates of developmental dyslexia have been investigated intensively over the last two decades and reliable evidence for a dysfunction of left-hemispheric reading systems in dyslexic readers has been found in functional neuroimaging studies. In addition, structural imaging studies using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) demonstrated grey matter reductions in dyslexics in several brain regions. To objectively assess the consistency of these findings, we performed activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis on nine published VBM studies reporting 62 foci of grey matter reduction in dyslexic readers. We found six significant clusters of convergence in bilateral temporo-parietal and left occipito-temporal cortical regions and in the cerebellum bilaterally. To identify possible overlaps between structural and functional deviations in dyslexic readers, we conducted additional ALE meta-analyses of imaging studies reporting functional underactivations (125 foci from 24 studies) or overactivations (95 foci from 11 studies ) in dyslexics. Subsequent conjunction analyses revealed overlaps between the results of the VBM meta-analysis and the meta-analysis of functional underactivations in the fusiform and supramarginal gyri of the left hemisphere. An overlap between VBM results and the meta-analysis of functional overactivations was found in the left cerebellum. The results of our study provide evidence for consistent grey matter variations bilaterally in the dyslexic brain and substantial overlap of these structural variations with functional abnormalities in left hemispheric regions.
Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX) is a rare genetic disorder. Recent studies show that brain damage in CTX patients extends beyond the abnormalities observed on conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We studied the MRI and 99 mTc-ethyl cysteinate dimer single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) findings of CTX patients and made a correlation with the neuropsychological presentations.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and 3D T1-weighted images of five CTX patients were compared with 15 age-matched controls. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) was use to delineate gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) volume loss. Fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and eigenvalues derived from DTI were used to detect WM changes and correlate with neuropsychological results. SPECT functional studies were used to correlate with GM changes.
Cognitive results showed that aside from moderate mental retardation, the patient group performed worse in all cognitive domains. Despite the extensive GM atrophy pattern, the cerebellum, peri-Sylvian regions and parietal-occipital regions were correlated with SPECT results. WM atrophy located in the peri-dentate and left cerebral peduncle areas corresponded with changes in diffusion measures, while axial and radial diffusivity suggested both demyelinating and axonal changes. Changes in FA and MD were preceded by VBM in the corpus callosum and corona radiata. Cognitive results correlated with FA changes.
In CTX, GM atrophy affected the perfusion patterns. Changes in WM included atrophy, and axonal changes with demyelination. Disconnection of major fiber tracts among different cortical regions may contribute to cognitive impairment.