Complete recovery of motor function after stroke is rare with deficits persisting into the chronic phase of recovery. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can evaluate relationships between white matter microstructure and motor function after stroke. The objective of this investigation was to characterize microstructural fiber integrity of motor and sensory regions of the corpus callosum (CC) and descending motor outputs of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC) in individuals with chronic stroke and evaluate the relationships between white matter integrity and motor function.
Standardized measures of upper extremity motor function were measured in thirteen individuals with chronic stroke. Manual dexterity was assessed in thirteen healthy age-matched control participants. DTI scans were completed for each participant. Fractional anisotropy (FA) of a cross-section of sensory and motor regions of the CC and the PLIC bilaterally were quantified. Multivariate analysis of variance evaluated differences between stroke and healthy groups. Correlational analyses were conducted for measures of motor function and FA. The stroke group exhibited reduced FA in the sensory (p = 0.001) region of the CC, contra- (p = 0.032) and ipsilesional (p = 0.001) PLIC, but not the motor region of the CC (p = 0.236). In the stroke group, significant correlations between contralesional PLIC FA and level of physical impairment (p = 0.005), grip strength (p = 0.006) and hand dexterity (p = 0.036) were observed.
Microstructural status of the sensory region of the CC is reduced in chronic stroke. Future work is needed to explore relationships between callosal sensorimotor fiber integrity and interhemispheric interactions post-stroke. In addition, contralesional primary motor output tract integrity is uniquely and closely associated with multiple dimensions of motor recovery in the chronic phase of stroke suggesting it may be an important biomarker of overall motor recovery.
Diffusion tensor imaging; Stroke; Motor recovery; White matter; Integrity; Corpus callosum; Internal capsule
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
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.
Chronic alcoholism is characterized by impaired control over emotionally motivated actions towards alcohol use. Neuropathologically, it is associated with widespread brain structural compromise marked by gray matter shrinkage, ventricular enlargement, and white matter degradation. The extent to which cortical damage itself or cortical disconnection by white matter fiber pathway disruption contribute to deficits in emotion, cognition, and behavior can be investigated with in vivo structural neuroimaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)-based quantitative fiber tracking. Tractography in alcoholism has revealed abnormalities in selective white matter fiber bundles involving limbic fiber tracts (fornix and cingulum) that connect cortico-limbic-striatal nodes of emotion and reward circuits. Studies documenting brain-behavior relationships support the role of alcoholism-related white matter fiber degradation as a substrate of clinical impairment. An understanding of the role of cortico-limbic fiber degradation in emotional dysregulation in alcoholism is now emerging.
neuroimaging; DTI-based quantitative tractography; white matter fiber; limbic system; basal ganglia; emotion; cognition; alcoholism
Children with neurological disorders may follow unique developmental trajectories whereby they undergo compensatory neuroplastic changes in brain structure and function that help them gain control over their symptoms [1–6]. We used behavioral and brain imaging techniques to investigate this conjecture in children with Tourette syndrome (TS). Using a behavioral task that induces high levels of intermanual conflict, we show that individuals with TS exhibit enhanced control of motor output. Then, using structural (diffusion-weighted imaging) brain imaging techniques, we demonstrate widespread differences in the white matter (WM) microstructure of the TS brain that include alterations in the corpus callosum and forceps minor (FM) WM that significantly predict tic severity in TS. Most importantly, we show that task performance for the TS group (but not for controls) is strongly predicted by the WM microstructure of the FM pathways that lead to the prefrontal cortex and by the functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level-dependent response in prefrontal areas connected by these tracts. These results provide evidence for compensatory brain reorganization that may underlie the increased self-regulation mechanisms that have been hypothesized to bring about the control of tics during adolescence.
► We combine behavioral studies with structural and functional neuroimaging ► We report enhanced cognitive control in children with Tourette syndrome ► Frontal lobe white-matter microstructure predicts tic severity in Tourette syndrome ► Frontal lobe white-matter and fMRI BOLD predict cognitive control in Tourette syndrome
Previous findings suggested the role of the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and cingulate gyrus in major depressive disorders (MDD), but the white matter microstructural abnormalities of the fibers connecting these brain structures are not known. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that white matter abnormalities are present in association fibers of the uncinate fasciculus (UF) and cingulum bundle (CB) among MDD subjects. A total of 21 MDD subjects aged between 30 and 65 years and 21 age-matched healthy controls (HC) were recruited. All subjects were right-handed and without history of diabetes or other cardiac diseases. We extracted quantitative tract-specific measures based on diffusion tensor imaging tractography to examine both diffusivity and geometric properties of the UF and CB. Significantly decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) and increased radial diffusivity of the right UF were observed in MDD patients compared with HC (p<0.05), while their geometric characteristics remained relatively unchanged. Among MDD subjects, depression severity had a significant negative correlation with normalized number of fibers (NNF) in the right UF (r=−0.53, p=0.02). We also found significant age effect (oldR) in both groups in the FA measure of the CB. Our study demonstrates novel findings of white matter microstructural abnormalities of the right UF in MDD. In the MDD group, the severity of depression is associated with reduced NNF in the right UF. These findings have implications for both clinical manifestations of depression as well as its pathophysiology.
diffusion tensor imaging; tractography; major depression; uncinate; cingulum; fractional anisotropy; depression; unipolar/bipolar; imaging; clinical or preclinical; mood/anxiety/stress disorders; neuroanatomy; diffusion tensor imaging; tractography; uncinate; cingulum; fractional anisotropy
Alterations of brain structure and function have been associated with psychomotor retardation in major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the association of motor behaviour and white matter integrity of motor pathways in MDD is unclear. The aim of the present study was to first investigate structural connectivity of white matter motor pathways in MDD. Second, we explore the relation of objectively measured motor activity and white matter integrity of motor pathways in MDD. Therefore, 21 patients with MDD and 21 healthy controls matched for age, gender, education and body mass index underwent diffusion tensor imaging and 24 hour actigraphy (measure of the activity level) the same day. Applying a probabilistic fibre tracking approach we extracted connection pathways between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC), the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), the SMA-proper, the primary motor cortex (M1), the caudate nucleus, the putamen, the pallidum and the thalamus. Patients had lower activity levels and demonstrated increased mean diffusivity (MD) in pathways linking left pre-SMA and SMA-proper, and right SMA-proper and M1. Exploratory analyses point to a positive association of activity level and mean-fractional anisotropy in the right rACC-pre-SMA connection in MDD. Only MDD patients with low activity levels had a negative linear association of activity level and mean-MD in the left dlPFC-pre-SMA connection. Our results point to structural alterations of cortico-cortical white matter motor pathways in MDD. Altered white matter organisation of rACC-pre-SMA and dlPFC-pre-SMA pathways may contribute to movement initiation in MDD.
Although experience-dependent structural changes have been demonstrated in adult gray matter, there is little evidence for such changes in white matter. Using diffusion imaging, we detected a localised increase in fractional anisotropy, a measure of microstructure, in white matter underlying the intraparietal sulcus, following training of a complex visuo-motor skill. This provides the first evidence for training related changes in white matter structure in the healthy human adult brain.
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 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.
Structure and function of the human brain are affected by training in both linguistic and musical domains. Individuals with intensive vocal musical training provide a useful model for investigating neural adaptations of learning in the vocal–motor domain and can be compared with learning in a more general musical domain. Here we confirm general differences in macrostructure (tract volume) and microstructure (fractional anisotropy, FA) of the arcuate fasciculus (AF), a prominent white-matter tract connecting temporal and frontal brain regions, between singers, instrumentalists, and non-musicians. Both groups of musicians differed from non-musicians in having larger tract volume and higher FA values of the right and left AF. The AF was then subdivided in a dorsal (superior) branch connecting the superior temporal gyrus and the inferior frontal gyrus (STG ↔ IFG), and ventral (inferior) branch connecting the middle temporal gyrus and the inferior frontal gyrus (MTG ↔ IFG). Relative to instrumental musicians, singers had a larger tract volume but lower FA values in the left dorsal AF (STG ↔ IFG), and a similar trend in the left ventral AF (MTG ↔ IFG). This between-group comparison controls for the general effects of musical training, although FA was still higher in singers compared to non-musicians. Both musician groups had higher tract volumes in the right dorsal and ventral tracts compared to non-musicians, but did not show a significant difference between each other. Furthermore, in the singers’ group, FA in the left dorsal branch of the AF was inversely correlated with the number of years of participants’ vocal training. Our findings suggest that long-term vocal–motor training might lead to an increase in volume and microstructural complexity of specific white-matter tracts connecting regions that are fundamental to sound perception, production, and its feedforward and feedback control which can be differentiated from a more general musician effect.
plasticity; white matter; arcuate fasciculus; auditory–motor interactions; tractography; music; singing
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.
The corpus callosum, which is the largest white matter structure in the human brain, connects the 2 cerebral hemispheres. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the independent processing of the hemispheres and in integrating information between both hemispheres. The functional integrity of interhemispheric interactions can be tested electrophysiologically in humans by using transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroencephalography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging. As a brain structural imaging, diffusion tensor imaging has revealed the microstructural connectivity underlying interhemispheric interactions. Sex, age, and motor training in addition to the size of the corpus callosum influence interhemispheric interactions. Several neurological disorders change hemispheric asymmetry directly by impairing the corpus callosum. Moreover, stroke lesions and unilateral peripheral impairments such as amputation alter interhemispheric interactions indirectly. Noninvasive brain stimulation changes the interhemispheric interactions between both motor cortices. Recently, these brain stimulation techniques were applied in the clinical rehabilitation of patients with stroke by ameliorating the deteriorated modulation of interhemispheric interactions. Here, we review the interhemispheric interactions and mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of these interactions and propose rehabilitative approaches for appropriate cortical reorganization.
In contrast to the more common Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging (HARDI) allows superior delineation of angular microstructures of brain white matter, and makes possible multiple-fiber modeling of each voxel for better characterization of brain connectivity. However, the complex orientation information afforded by HARDI makes registration of HARDI images more complicated than scalar images. In particular, the question of how much orientation information is needed for satisfactory alignment has not been sufficiently addressed. Low order orientation representation is generally more robust than high order representation, although the latter provides more information for correct alignment of fiber pathways. However, high order representation, when naïvely utilized, might not necessarily be conducive to improving registration accuracy since similar structures with significant orientation differences prior to proper alignment might be mistakenly taken as non-matching structures. We present in this paper a HARDI registration algorithm, called SPherical Harmonic Elastic REgistration (SPHERE), which in a principled means hierarchically extracts orientation information from HARDI data for structural alignment. The image volumes are first registered using robust, relatively direction invariant features derived from the Orientation Distribution Function (ODF), and the alignment is then further refined using spherical harmonic (SH) representation with gradually increasing orders. This progression from non-directional, single-directional to multi-directional representation provides a systematic means of extracting directional information given by diffusion-weighted imaging. Coupled with a template-subject-consistent soft-correspondence-matching scheme, this approach allows robust and accurate alignment of HARDI data. Experimental results show marked increase in accuracy over a state-of-the-art DTI registration algorithm.
High Angular Resolution Diffusion Imaging (HARDI); Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (DWI); Deformable Registration; Spherical Harmonics; Brain White Matter; Brain Circuitry
Diffusion MRI has become an invaluable tool for studying white matter microstructure and brain connectivity. The emergence of quantitative susceptibility mapping and susceptibility tensor imaging (STI) has provided another unique tool for assessing the structure of white matter. In the highly ordered white matter structure, diffusion MRI measures hindered water mobility induced by various tissue and cell membranes, while susceptibility sensitizes to the molecular composition and axonal arrangement. Integrating these two methods may produce new insights into the complex physiology of white matter. In this study, we investigated the relationship between diffusion and magnetic susceptibility in the white matter. Experiments were conducted on phantoms and human brains in vivo. Diffusion properties were quantified with the diffusion tensor model and also with the higher order tensor model based on the cumulant expansion. Frequency shift and susceptibility tensor were measured with quantitative susceptibility mapping and susceptibility tensor imaging. These diffusion and susceptibility quantities were compared and correlated in regions of single fiber bundles and regions of multiple fiber orientations. Relationships were established with similarities and differences identified. It is believed that diffusion MRI and susceptibility MRI provide complementary information of the microstructure of white matter. Together, they allow a more complete assessment of healthy and diseased brains.
MRI; white matter; diffusion tensor imaging; generalized diffusion tensor imaging; susceptibility tensor imaging; higher order tensor; cumulant; kurtosis
White matter microstructure and volume show synchronous developmental patterns in children. White matter volume increases considerably during development. Fractional anisotropy, a measure for white matter microstructural directionality, also increases with age. Development of white matter volume and development of white matter microstructure seem to go hand in hand. The extent to which the same or different genetic and/or environmental factors drive these two aspects of white matter maturation is currently unknown. We mapped changes in white matter volume, surface area and diffusion parameters in mono- and dizygotic twins who were scanned at age 9 (203 individuals) and again at age 12 (126 individuals). Over the three-year interval, white matter volume (+6.0%) and surface area (+1.7%) increased, fiber bundles expanded (most pronounced in the left arcuate fasciculus and splenium), and fractional anisotropy increased (+3.0%). Genes influenced white matter volume (heritability ∼85%), surface area (∼85%), and fractional anisotropy (locally 7% to 50%) at both ages. Finally, volumetric white matter growth was negatively correlated with fractional anisotropy increase (r = –0.62) and this relationship was driven by environmental factors. In children who showed the most pronounced white matter growth, fractional anisotropy increased the least and vice-versa. Thus, white matter development in childhood may reflect a process of both expansion and fiber optimization.
Previous statistical voxelwise lesion-behavior mapping (VLBM) studies have demonstrated that spatial neglect is associated with cortical and subcortical gray matter damage. However, it has also been suggested that the disorder may result from white matter injury. Our aim was to investigate the white matter connectivity in a large sample of 140 stroke patients. We combined a VLBM approach with the histological maps of the human white matter fiber tracts provided by the Jülich probabilistic cytoarchitectonic atlas. We found that damage of right perisylvian white matter connections—the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the inferior occipitofrontal fasciculus, and the superior occipitofrontal fasciculus—is a typical finding in patients with spatial neglect. However, the analysis also revealed that the largest portion of the lesion area, namely between 89.1% and 96.6%, affected brain structures other than the perisylvian white matter fiber tracts. Predominantly, these included gray matter structures such as the superior temporal, inferior parietal, inferior frontal, and insular cortices, as well as subcortically the putamen and the caudate nucleus. Damage of gray matter structures thus appears to be a strong predictor of spatial neglect.
attention; human; spatial neglect; stroke; superior longitudinal fasciculus; superior occipitofrontal fasciculus; visual search; white matter
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and fiber tractography are useful tools for reconstructing white matter tracts (WMT) in the brain. Previous tractography studies have sought to segment reconstructed WMT into anatomical structures using several approaches, but quantification has been limited to extracting mean values of diffusion indices. Delineating WMT in schizophrenia is of particular interest because schizophrenia has been hypothesized to be a disorder of disrupted connectivity, especially between frontal and temporal regions of the brain. In this study, we aim to differentiate diffusion properties of thalamo-frontal pathways in schizophrenia from normal controls. We present a quantitative group comparison method, which combines the strengths of both tractography-based and voxel-based studies. Our algorithm extracts white matter pathways using whole brain tractography. Functionally relevant bundles are selected and parsed from the resulting set of tracts, using an internal capsule (IC) region of interest (ROI) as “source”, and different Brodmann area (BA) ROIs as “targets”. The resulting bundles are then longitudinally parameterized so that diffusion properties can be measured and compared along the WMT. Using this processing pipeline, we were able to find altered diffusion properties in male patients with chronic schizophrenia in terms of fractional anisotropy (FA) decreases and mean diffusivity (MD) increases in precise and functionally relevant locations. These findings suggest that our method can enhance the regional and functional specificity of DTI group studies, thus improving our understanding of brain function.
diffusion tensor imaging (DTI); Brodmann area (BA); internal capsule (IC); parametrization; chronic schizophrenia
Diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) has provided unparalleled insight into the microscopic structure and organization of the central nervous system. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and other models of the diffusion MRI signal extract microstructural properties of tissues with relevance to the normal and injured brain. Despite the prevalence of such techniques and applications, accurate and large-scale validation has proven difficult, particularly in the human brain. In this report, human brain sections obtained from a digital public brain bank were employed to quantify anisotropy and fiber orientation using structure tensor analysis. The derived maps depict the intricate complexity of white matter fibers at a resolution not attainable with current DWI experiments. Moreover, the effects of multiple fiber bundles (i.e., crossing fibers) and intravoxel fiber dispersion were demonstrated. Examination of the cortex and hippocampal regions validated-specific features of previous in vivo and ex vivo DTI studies of the human brain. Despite the limitation to two dimensions, the resulting images provide a unique depiction of white matter organization at resolutions currently unattainable with DWI. The method of analysis may be used to validate tissue properties derived from DTI and alternative models of the diffusion signal.
anisotropy; diffusion tensor imaging; structure tensor; crossing fibers; histology; fiber orientation
Increasing evidence indicates that major depressive disorder (MDD) is usually accompanied by altered white matter in the prefrontal cortex, the parietal lobe and the limbic system. As a behavioral abnormity of MDD, rumination has been believed to be a substantial indicator of the mental state of the depressive state. So far, however, no report that we are aware of has evaluated the relationship between white matter alterations and the ruminative state. In this study, we first explored the altered white matter using a tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) method based on diffusion tensor imaging of 19 healthy and 16 depressive subjects. We then investigated correlations between the altered white matter microstructure in the identified altered regions and the severity of ruminations measured by the ruminative response scale. Our results demonstrated altered white matter microstructure in circuits connecting the prefrontal lobe, the parietal lobe and the limbic system (p<0.005, uncorrected), findings which support previous research. More importantly, the result also indicated that a greater alteration in the white matter is associated with a more ruminative state (p<0.05, Bonferroni corrected). The detected abnormalities in the white matter should be interpreted cautiously because of the small sample size in this study. This finding supports the psychometric significance of white matter deficits in MDD.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe neurodegenerative disease selectively affecting upper and lower motor neurons. Patients with ALS suffer from progressive paralysis and eventually die on average after three years. The underlying neurobiology of upper motor neuron degeneration and its effects on the complex network of the brain are, however, largely unknown. Here, we examined the effects of ALS on the structural brain network topology in 35 patients with ALS and 19 healthy controls. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the brain network was reconstructed for each individual participant. The connectivity of this reconstructed brain network was compared between patients and controls using complexity theory without - a priori selected - regions of interest. Patients with ALS showed an impaired sub-network of regions with reduced white matter connectivity (p = 0.0108, permutation testing). This impaired sub-network was strongly centered around primary motor regions (bilateral precentral gyrus and right paracentral lobule), including secondary motor regions (bilateral caudal middle frontal gyrus and pallidum) as well as high-order hub regions (right posterior cingulate and precuneus). In addition, we found a significant reduction in overall efficiency (p = 0.0095) and clustering (p = 0.0415). From our findings, we conclude that upper motor neuron degeneration in ALS affects both primary motor connections as well as secondary motor connections, together composing an impaired sub-network. The degenerative process in ALS was found to be widespread, but interlinked and targeted to the motor connectome.
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
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.
Age-related decline in microstructural integrity of certain white matter tracts may explain cognitive decline associated with normal aging. Whole brain tractography and a clustering segmentation in 48 healthy individuals across the adult lifespan were used to examine: interhemispheric (corpus callosum), intrahemispheric association (cingulum, uncinate, arcuate, inferior longitudinal, inferior occipitofrontal), and projection (corticospinal) fibers. Principal components analysis reduced cognitive tests into 6 meaningful factors: (1) memory and executive function; (2) visuomotor dexterity; (3) motor speed; (4) attention and working memory; (5) set-shifting/flexibility; and (6) visuospatial construction. Using theory-based structural equation modeling, relationships among age, white matter tract integrity, and cognitive performance were investigated. Parsimonious model fit demonstrated relationships where decline in white matter integrity may explain age-related decline in cognitive performance: inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) with visuomotor dexterity; the inferior occipitofrontal fasciculus with visuospatial construction; and posterior fibers (i.e., splenium) of the corpus callosum with memory and executive function. Our findings suggest that decline in the microstructural integrity of white matter fibers can account for cognitive decline in normal aging.
Aging; Anisotropy; Cognition; Diffusion tensor imaging; White matter
Prior studies have documented a range of brain changes that occur as a result of healthy aging as well as neural alterations due to profound dysregulation in vascular health such as extreme hypertension, cerebrovascular disease and stroke. In contrast, little information exists about the more transitionary state between the normal and abnormal physiology that contributes to vascular disease and cognitive decline. Specifically, little information exists with regard to the influence of systemic vascular physiology on brain tissue structure in older individuals with low risk for cerebrovascular disease and with no evidence of cognitive impairment. We examined the association between resting blood pressure and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices of white matter microstructure in 128 healthy older adults (43–87 years) spanning the normotensive to moderate-severe hypertensive range. Mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) was related to diffusion measures in several regions of the brain with greatest associations in the anterior corpus callosum and lateral frontal, precentral, superior frontal, lateral parietal and precuneus white matter. Associations between white matter integrity and blood pressure remained when controlling for age, when controlling for white matter lesions, and when limiting the analyses to only normotensive, pharmacologically controlled and prehypertensive individuals. Of the diffusion measures examined, associations were strongest between MABP and radial diffusivity which may indicate that blood pressure has an influence on myelin structure. Associations between MABP and white matter integrity followed spatial patterns resembling those often attributed to the effects of chronological age, suggesting that systemic cerebrovascular health may play a role in neural tissue degeneration classically ascribed to aging. These results demonstrate the importance of the consideration of vascular physiology in studies of cognitive and neural aging, and that this significance extends to even the normotensive and medically controlled population. These data additionally suggest that optimal management of blood pressure may require consideration of the more subtle influence of vascular health on neural health in addition to the primary goal of prevention of a major cerebrovascular event.