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
In recent years, diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) has been increasingly used to explore the relationship between white matter structure and cognitive function. This technique uses the passive diffusion of water molecules to infer properties of the surrounding tissue. DW-MRI has been extensively employed to investigate how individual differences in behavior are related to variability in white matter microstructure on a range of different cognitive tasks and also to examine the effect experiential learning might have on brain structural connectivity. Using diffusion tensor tractography, large white matter pathways have been traced in vivo and used to explore patterns of white matter projections between different brain regions. Recent findings suggest that diffusion-weighted imaging might even be used to measure functional differences in water diffusion during task performance. This review describes some research highlights in diffusion-weighted imaging and how this technique can be employed to further our understanding of cognitive function.
diffusion-weighted imaging; cognitive; tractography; white matter; individual differences
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
Functional and structural reorganization in the brain occurs after stroke. The ability to predict motor outcomes may depend on patterns of brain functional and structural connectivity. We tested the hypothesis that alterations in motor transcallosal and corticospinal connections correlate with motor impairment in patients with chronic stroke. Eleven ischemic stroke patients underwent the Upper Extremity Fugl-Meyer (UE-FM) assessment, resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Twelve healthy control subjects underwent DTI. We assessed the temporal coupling in neural activity between interhemispheric motor cortex, and white matter integrity by means of fractional anisotropy (FA), in the transcallosal motor fibers and corticospinal tract. Partial correlation analyses were performed to determine whether these connectivity measures correlate with Upper UE-FM scores. Patients compared to controls had reduced FA in common voxels of transcallosal motor and ipsilesional corticospinal fibers. Within the patient group those with higher interhemispheric motor cortex connectivity and higher FA in the transcallosal motor fibers were less impaired. The results show that markers of functional and structural motor cortex connectivity correlate with motor impairment in the chronic stage of stroke.
corticospinal tract; transcallosal motor tract; motor recovery; resting state fMRI; DTI
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.
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
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
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) provides functionally relevant information about white matter structure. Local anatomical connectivity information combined with fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) may predict functional outcomes in stroke survivors. Imaging methods for predicting functional outcomes in stroke survivors are not well established. This work uses DTI to objectively assess the effects of a stroke lesion on white matter structure and sensorimotor function.
A voxel-based approach is introduced to assess a stroke lesion's global impact on motor function. Anatomical T1-weighted and diffusion tensor images of the brain were acquired for nineteen subjects (10 post-stroke and 9 age-matched controls). A manually selected volume of interest was used to alleviate the effects of stroke lesions on image registration. Images from all subjects were registered to the images of the control subject that was anatomically closest to Talairach space. Each subject's transformed image was uniformly seeded for DTI tractography. Each seed was inversely transformed into the individual subject space, where DTI tractography was conducted and then the results were transformed back to the reference space. A voxel-wise connectivity matrix was constructed from the fibers, which was then used to calculate the number of directly and indirectly connected neighbors of each voxel. A novel voxel-wise indirect structural connectivity (VISC) index was computed as the average number of direct connections to a voxel's indirect neighbors. Voxel-based analyses (VBA) were performed to compare VISC, FA, and MD for the detection of lesion-induced changes in sensorimotor function. For each voxel, a t-value was computed from the differences between each stroke brain and the 9 controls. A series of linear regressions was performed between Fugl-Meyer (FM) assessment scores of sensorimotor impairment and each DTI metric's log number of voxels that differed from the control group.
Correlation between the logarithm of the number of significant voxels in the ipsilesional hemisphere and total Fugl-Meyer score was moderate for MD (R2 = 0.512), and greater for VISC (R2 = 0.796) and FA (R2 = 0.674). The slopes of FA (p = 0.0036), VISC (p = 0.0005), and MD (p = 0.0199) versus the total FM score were significant. However, these correlations were driven by the upper extremity motor component of the FM score (VISC: R2 = 0.879) with little influence of the lower extremity motor component (FA: R2 = 0.177).
The results suggest that a voxel-wise metric based on DTI tractography can predict upper extremity sensorimotor function of stroke survivors, and that supraspinal intraconnectivity may have a less dominant role in lower extremity function.
•An intrinsic voxel-based structural connectivity metric is proposed.•The metric enhances the impact of stroke lesions on the distant voxels.•Whole-brain extralesional anatomical connectivity predicts functional outcome.•Functional impact of a lesion is determined by residual anatomical connectivity.•Connectivity to the posterior parietal cortex is a key to sensorimotor function.
DTI, diffusion tensor imaging; FA, fractional anisotropy; FOV, field of view; FM, Fugl-Meyer; LDV, log difference volume; LE, lower extremity; MD, mean diffusivity; TE, echo time; TFIRE, Tactful Functional Imaging Research Environment; TR, repetition time; UE, upper extremity; VISC, voxel-wise indirect structural connectivity; Voxel-wise structural connectivity; Tractography; Diffusion tensor imaging; Stroke; Sensorimotor function; Lesion analysis
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.
Brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have demonstrated regional patterns of brain macrostructural atrophy and white matter microstructural alterations separately in the three major subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which includes behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA). This study was to investigate to what extent the pattern of white matter microstructural alterations in FTLD subtypes mirrors the pattern of brain atrophy, and to compare the ability of various diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) indices in characterizing FTLD patients, as well as to determine whether DTI measures provide greater classification power for FTLD than measuring brain atrophy. Twenty-five patients with FTLD (13 with bvFTD, 6 with SD, and 6 with PNFA) and 19 healthy age-matched control subjects underwent both structural MRI and DTI scans. Measurements of regional brain atrophy were based on T1-weighted MRI data and voxel-based morphometry. Measurements of regional white matter degradation were based on voxelwise as well as regions-of-interest tests of DTI variations, expressed as fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, and radial diffusivity. Compared to controls, bvFTD, SD, and PNFA patients each exhibited characteristic regional patterns of brain atrophy and white matter damage. DTI overall provided significantly greater accuracy for FTLD classification than brain atrophy. Moreover, radial diffusivity was more sensitive in assessing white matter damage in FTLD than other DTI indices. The findings suggest that DTI in general and radial diffusivity in particular are more powerful measures for the classification of FTLD patients from controls than brain atrophy.
Behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia; diffusion tensor imaging; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; multimodality MRI; progressive nonfluent aphasia; semantic dementia
People vary in their ability to learn new motor skills. We hypothesize that between-subject variability in brain structure and function can explain differences in learning. We use brain functional and structural MRI methods to characterize such neural correlates of individual variations in motor learning. Healthy subjects applied isometric grip force of varying magnitudes with their right hands cued visually to generate smoothly-varying pressures following a regular pattern. We tested whether individual variations in motor learning were associated with anatomically colocalized variations in magnitude of functional MRI (fMRI) signal or in MRI differences related to white and grey matter microstructure. We found that individual motor learning was correlated with greater functional activation in the prefrontal, premotor, and parietal cortices, as well as in the basal ganglia and cerebellum.
Structural MRI correlates were found in the premotor cortex [for fractional anisotropy (FA)] and in the cerebellum [for both grey matter density and FA]. The cerebellar microstructural differences were anatomically colocalized with fMRI correlates of learning. This study thus suggests that variations across the population in the function and structure of specific brain regions for motor control explain some of the individual differences in skill learning. This strengthens the notion that brain structure determines some limits to cognitive function even in a healthy population. Along with evidence from pathology suggesting a role for these regions in spontaneous motor recovery, our results also highlight potential targets for therapeutic interventions designed to maximize plasticity for recovery of similar visuomotor skills after brain injury.
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.
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
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.
We value skills we have learned intentionally, but equally important are skills acquired incidentally without ability to describe how or what is learned, referred to as implicit. Randomized practice schedules are superior to grouped schedules for long-term skill gained intentionally, but its relevance for implicit learning is not known. In a parallel design, we studied healthy subjects who learned a motor sequence implicitly under randomized or grouped practice schedule and obtained diffusion-weighted images to identify white matter microstructural correlates of long-term skill. Randomized practice led to superior long-term skill compared with grouped practice. Whole-brain analyses relating interindividual variability in fractional anisotropy (FA) to long-term skill demonstrated that 1) skill in randomized learners correlated with FA within the corticostriatal tract connecting left sensorimotor cortex to posterior putamen, while 2) skill in grouped learners correlated with FA within the right forceps minor connecting homologous regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the corticostriatal tract connecting lateral PFC to anterior putamen. These results demonstrate first that randomized practice schedules improve long-term implicit skill more than grouped practice schedules and, second, that the superior skill acquired through randomized practice can be related to white matter microstructure in the sensorimotor corticostriatal network.
consolidation; contextual interference; diffusion tensor imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; motor learning; motor sequence; online learning
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
Delay discounting, a measure of impulsive choice, has been associated with decreased control of the prefrontal cortex over striatum responses. The anatomical connectivity between both brain regions in delaying gratification remains unknown. Here, we investigate whether the quality of frontostriatal (FS) white matter tracts can predict individual differences in delay-discounting behavior. We use tract-based diffusion tensor imaging and magnetization transfer imaging to measure the microstructural properties of FS fiber tracts in 40 healthy young adults (from 18 to 25 years). We additionally explored whether internal sex hormone levels affect the integrity of FS tracts, based on the hypothesis that sex hormones modulate axonal density within prefrontal dopaminergic circuits. We calculated fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), longitudinal diffusivity, radial diffusivity (RD), and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR), a putative measure of myelination, for the FS tract. Results showed that lower integrity within the FS tract (higher MD and RD and lower FA), predicts faster discounting in both sexes. MTR was unrelated to delay-discounting performance. In addition, testosterone levels in males were associated with a lower integrity (higher RD) within the FS tract. Our study provides support for the hypothesis that enhanced structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles between prefrontal and striatal brain areas is associated with better impulse control.
delay discounting; DTI; frontostriatal tracts; impulsivity; testosterone
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