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1.  Gray and white matter water diffusion in the syndromic variants of frontotemporal dementia 
Neurology  2010;74(16):1279-1287.
To use diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to assess gray matter and white matter tract diffusion in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), semantic dementia (SMD), and progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA).
This was a case-control study where 16 subjects with bvFTD, 7 with PNFA, and 4 with SMD were identified and matched by age and gender to 19 controls. All subjects had 3-T head MRI with a DTI sequence with diffusion encoding in 21 directions. Gray matter mean diffusivity (MD) was assessed using a region-of-interest (ROI) and voxel-level approach, and voxel-based morphometry was used to assess patterns of gray matter loss. White matter tract diffusivity (fractional anisotropy and radial diffusivity) was assessed by placing ROIs on tracts of interest.
In bvFTD, increased gray matter MD and gray matter loss were identified bilaterally throughout frontal and temporal lobes, with abnormal diffusivity observed in white matter tracts that connect to these regions. In SMD, gray matter loss and increased MD were identified predominantly in the left temporal lobe, with tract abnormalities observed in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and uncinate fasciculus. In PNFA, gray matter loss and increased MD were observed in left inferior frontal lobe, insula, and supplemental motor area, with tract abnormalities observed in the superior longitudinal fasciculus.
The diffusivity of gray matter is increased in regions that are atrophic in frontotemporal dementia, suggesting disruption of the cytoarchitecture of remaining tissue. Furthermore, damage was identified in white matter tracts that interconnect these regions, supporting the hypothesis that these diseases involve different and specific brain networks.
= automated anatomic labeling;
= anterior cingulate;
= Alzheimer's Disease Research Center;
= Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry;
= apraxia of speech;
= behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia;
= coefficient of variation;
= axial diffusivity;
= radial diffusivity;
= diffusion tensor imaging;
= fractional anisotropy;
= false discovery rate;
= field of view;
= frontotemporal dementia;
= full-width at half-maximum;
= genu of the corpus callosum;
= high-dimensional warping;
= inferior longitudinal fasciculus;
= mean diffusivity;
= magnetization prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo;
= posterior cingulate;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= partial volume correction;
= region of interest;
= superior longitudinal fasciculus;
= semantic dementia;
= uncinate fasciculus.
PMCID: PMC2860485  PMID: 20404309
2.  Tracking the Roots of Reading Ability: White Matter Volume and Integrity Correlate with Phonological Awareness in Prereading and Early-Reading Kindergarten Children 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(33):13251-13258.
Developmental dyslexia, an unexplained difficulty in learning to read, has been associated with alterations in white matter organization as measured by diffusion-weighted imaging. It is unknown, however, whether these differences in structural connectivity are related to the cause of dyslexia or if they are consequences of reading difficulty (e.g., less reading experience or compensatory brain organization). Here, in 40 kindergartners who had received little or no reading instruction, we examined the relation between behavioral predictors of dyslexia and white matter organization in left arcuate fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, and the parietal portion of the superior longitudinal fasciculus using probabilistic tractography. Higher composite phonological awareness scores were significantly and positively correlated with the volume of the arcuate fasciculus, but not with other tracts. Two other behavioral predictors of dyslexia, rapid naming and letter knowledge, did not correlate with volumes or diffusion values in these tracts. The volume and fractional anisotropy of the left arcuate showed a particularly strong positive correlation with a phoneme blending test. Whole-brain regressions of behavioral scores with diffusion measures confirmed the unique relation between phonological awareness and the left arcuate. These findings indicate that the left arcuate fasciculus, which connects anterior and posterior language regions of the human brain and which has been previously associated with reading ability in older individuals, is already smaller and has less integrity in kindergartners who are at risk for dyslexia because of poor phonological awareness. These findings suggest a structural basis of behavioral risk for dyslexia that predates reading instruction.
PMCID: PMC3742917  PMID: 23946384
3.  Abnormal Language Pathway in Children with Angelman Syndrome 
Pediatric neurology  2011;44(5):350-356.
Angelman Syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by pervasive developmental disability with failure to develop speech. We examined the basis for severe language delay in Angelman Syndrome patients using diffusion tensor imaging. Magnetic Resonance Imaging/diffusion tensor imaging was performed in seven genetically confirmed Angelman Syndrome children (age:70±26 months, five males) and four age-matched controls to investigate the microstructural integrity of arcuate fasciculus and other major association tracts. Six of seven Angelman Syndrome children had unidentifiable left arcuate fasciculus while all controls had identifiable arcuate fasciculus. The right arcuate fasciculus was absent in six of seven Angelman Syndrome children and one of four controls. Diffusion tensor imaging color map suggested aberrant morphology of the arcuate fasciculus region. Other association tracts, including uncinate fasciculus, inferior-fronto-occipital fasciculus, inferior-longitudinal fasciculus, and corticospinal tract, were identifiable but showed decreased fractional anisotropy in Angelman Syndrome children. Increased apparent diffusion coefficient was seen in all tracts except uncinate fasciculus when compared to controls. Angelman Syndrome patients have global impairment of white matter integrity in association tracts, particularly, the arcuate fasciculus which shows severe morphological changes. This could be due to a potential problem with axon guidance during brain development possibly due to loss of UBE3A gene expression.
PMCID: PMC3075431  PMID: 21481743
Angelman Syndrome; Arcuate Fasciculus; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Neuroimaging
4.  Diffusion tensor imaging in autism spectrum disorders: Preliminary evidence of abnormal neural connectivity 
This study indirectly tested the hypothesis that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have impaired neural connections between the amygdala, fusiform face area, and superior temporal sulcus, key processing nodes of the “social brain.” This would be evidenced by abnormalities in the major fibre tracts known to connect these structures, including the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus.
Magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging was performed on 20 right-handed males (ASD = 10, controls = 10) with a mean age 13.5 ± 4.0 years. Subjects were group-matched according to age, full-scale IQ, handedness, and ethnicity. Fractional anisotropy was used to assess structural integrity of major fibre tracts. Voxel-wise comparison of white matter fractional anisotropy was conducted between groups using ANCOVA adjusting for age, full-scale IQ, and brain volume. Volumes of interest were identified using predetermined probability and cluster thresholds. Follow-up tractography was performed to confirm the anatomic location of all volumes of interest.
All volumes of interest were regions of lower FA and were observed primarily in pericallosal regions and temporal lobes. As confirmed by tractography, affected white matter structures included the inferior longitudinal fasciculus/inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, superior longitudinal fasciculus, and corpus callosum/cingulum. Notably, some volumes of interest were adjacent to the fusiform face area, bilaterally, corresponding to involvement of the inferior longitudinal fasciculus. The largest effect sizes were noted for volumes of interest in the right anterior radiation of the corpus callosum/cingulum and right fusiform face area (inferior longitudinal fasciculus).
This study provides preliminary evidence of impaired neural connectivity in the corpus callosum/cingulum and temporal lobes involving the inferior longitudinal fasciculus/inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and superior longitudinal fasciculus in ASDs. These findings provide preliminary support for aberrant neural connectivity between the amygdala, fusiform face area, and superior temporal sulcus – temporal lobe structures critical for normal social perception and cognition.
PMCID: PMC3123660  PMID: 21128874
autism; connectivity; diffusion tensor imaging; social brain; white matter
5.  Diffusion tensor tractography findings in schizophrenia across the adult lifespan 
Brain  2010;133(5):1494-1504.
In healthy adult individuals, late life is a dynamic time of change with respect to the microstructural integrity of white matter tracts. Yet, elderly individuals are generally excluded from diffusion tensor imaging studies in schizophrenia. Therefore, we examined microstructural integrity of frontotemporal and interhemispheric white matter tracts in schizophrenia across the adult lifespan. Diffusion tensor imaging data from 25 younger schizophrenic patients (≤55 years), 25 younger controls, 25 older schizophrenic patients (≥56 years) and 25 older controls were analysed. Patients with schizophrenia in each group were individually matched to controls. Whole-brain tractography and clustering segmentation were employed to isolate white matter tracts. Groups were compared using repeated measures analysis of variance with 12 within-group measures of fractional anisotropy: (left and right) uncinate fasciculus, arcuate fasciculus, inferior longitudinal fasciculus, inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus, cingulum bundle, and genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. For each white matter tract, fractional anisotropy was then regressed against age in patients and controls, and correlation coefficients compared. The main effect of group (F3,92 = 12.2, P < 0.001), and group by tract interactions (F26,832 = 1.68, P = 0.018) were evident for fractional anisotropy values. Younger patients had significantly lower fractional anisotropy than younger controls (Bonferonni-corrected alpha = 0.0042) in the left uncinate fasciculus (t48 = 3.7, P = 0.001) and right cingulum bundle (t48 = 3.6, P = 0.001), with considerable effect size, but the older groups did not differ. Schizophrenic patients did not demonstrate accelerated age-related decline compared with healthy controls in any white matter tract. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the microstructural integrity of frontotemporal white matter tracts across the adult lifespan in schizophrenia. The left uncinate fasciculus and right cingulum bundle are disrupted in younger chronic patients with schizophrenia compared with matched controls, suggesting that these white matter tracts are related to frontotemporal disconnectivity. The absence of accelerated age-related decline, or differences between older community-dwelling patients and controls, suggests that these patients may possess resilience to white matter disruption.
PMCID: PMC2859148  PMID: 20237131
schizophrenia; diffusion tensor; ageing; white matter fibre pathways
6.  Alterations in white matter pathways in Angelman syndrome 
Angelman syndrome is a neurogenetic disorder characterized by severe intellectual disability, absent speech, seizures, and outbursts of laughter. The aim of this study was to utilize diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine alterations in white matter pathways in Angelman syndrome, with an emphasis on correlations with clinical severity.
DTI was used to examine the arcuate fasciculus (AF), uncinate fasciculus (UF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), and the corpus callosum (CC). We enrolled 14 children aged 8 to 17 years (mean age 10y 8mo; SD 2y 7mo) with Angelman syndrome (seven male; seven female) and 13 typically developing children, aged 8 to 17 years, for comparison (five male; eight female; mean age 12y; SD 2y 9mo). Individuals with Angelman syndrome were assessed using standardized measures of development, language, and behaviour.
The children with Angelman syndrome exhibited lower fractional anisotropy and increased radial diffusivity values than the comparison group for the AF, UF, ILF, and CC (p<0.006 corrected for multiple comparisons). They also had lower fractional anisotropy values for the IFOF and higher radial diffusivity values for the left IFOF (p<0.006). Additionally, children with Angelman syndrome had significantly higher apparent diffusion coefficient values in the AF, CC, ILF, and the left IFOF (p<0.006). Significant correlations were noted between DTI parameters and some of the clinical assessment outcomes (e.g. language, socialization, cognition) for three of the temporal pathways (AF, UF, ILF; p<0.05).
Changes in DTI parameters in individuals with Angelman syndrome suggest decreased/delayed myelination, decreased axonal density or diameter, or aberrant axonal organization. Our findings suggest a generalized white matter alteration throughout the brain in those with Angelman syndrome; however, only the alterations in temporal white matter pathways were associated with language and cognitive and social functioning.
PMCID: PMC3059217  PMID: 21121904
7.  Diffusion tensor imaging correlates of memory and language impairments in temporal lobe epilepsy 
Neurology  2008;71(23):1869-1876.
To investigate the relationship between white matter tract integrity and language and memory performances in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed in 17 patients with TLE and 17 healthy controls. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were calculated for six fiber tracts (uncinate fasciculus [UF], arcuate fasciculus [AF], fornix [FORX], parahippocampal cingulum [PHC], inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus [IFOF], and corticospinal tract [CST]). Neuropsychological measures of memory and language were obtained and correlations were performed to evaluate the relationship between DTI and neuropsychological measures. Hierarchical regression was performed to determine unique contributions of each fiber tract to cognitive performances after controlling for age and hippocampal volume (HV).
Increases in MD of the left UF, PHC, and IFOF were associated with poorer verbal memory in TLE, as were bilateral increases in MD of the AF, and decreases in FA of the right AF. Increased MD of the AF and UF, and decreased FA of the AF, UF, and left IFOF were related to naming performances. No correlations were found between DTI measures and nonverbal memory or fluency in TLE. Regression analyses revealed that several fibers, including the AF, UF, and IFOF, independently predicted cognitive performances after controlling for HV.
The results suggest that structural compromise to multiple fiber tracts is associated with memory and language impairments in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. Furthermore, we provide initial evidence that diffusion tensor imaging tractography may provide clinically unique information for predicting neuropsychological status in patients with epilepsy.
= arcuate fasciculus;
= Boston Naming Test;
= corticospinal tract;
= diffusion tensor imaging;
= fractional anisotropy;
= fornix;
= hippocampal volume;
= intracranial-adjusted HV;
= inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus;
= Logical Memory;
= mean diffusivity;
= mesial temporal sclerosis;
= parahippocampal cingulum;
= temporal lobe epilepsy;
= uncinate fasciculus;
= Wechsler Memory Scale–Third Edition.
PMCID: PMC2676974  PMID: 18946001
8.  White matter damage in primary progressive aphasias: a diffusion tensor tractography study 
Brain  2011;134(10):3011-3029.
Primary progressive aphasia is a clinical syndrome that encompasses three major phenotypes: non-fluent/agrammatic, semantic and logopenic. These clinical entities have been associated with characteristic patterns of focal grey matter atrophy in left posterior frontoinsular, anterior temporal and left temporoparietal regions, respectively. Recently, network-level dysfunction has been hypothesized but research to date has focused largely on studying grey matter damage. The aim of this study was to assess the integrity of white matter tracts in the different primary progressive aphasia subtypes. We used diffusion tensor imaging in 48 individuals: nine non-fluent, nine semantic, nine logopenic and 21 age-matched controls. Probabilistic tractography was used to identify bilateral inferior longitudinal (anterior, middle, posterior) and uncinate fasciculi (referred to as the ventral pathway); and the superior longitudinal fasciculus segmented into its frontosupramarginal, frontoangular, frontotemporal and temporoparietal components, (referred to as the dorsal pathway). We compared the tracts’ mean fractional anisotropy, axial, radial and mean diffusivities for each tract in the different diagnostic categories. The most prominent white matter changes were found in the dorsal pathways in non-fluent patients, in the two ventral pathways and the temporal components of the dorsal pathways in semantic variant, and in the temporoparietal component of the dorsal bundles in logopenic patients. Each of the primary progressive aphasia variants showed different patterns of diffusion tensor metrics alterations: non-fluent patients showed the greatest changes in fractional anisotropy and radial and mean diffusivities; semantic variant patients had severe changes in all metrics; and logopenic patients had the least white matter damage, mainly involving diffusivity, with fractional anisotropy altered only in the temporoparietal component of the dorsal pathway. This study demonstrates that both careful dissection of the main language tracts and consideration of all diffusion tensor metrics are necessary to characterize the white matter changes that occur in the variants of primary progressive aphasia. These results highlight the potential value of diffusion tensor imaging as a new tool in the multimodal diagnostic evaluation of primary progressive aphasia.
PMCID: PMC3187537  PMID: 21666264
primary progressive aphasia; progressive non-fluent aphasia; semantic dementia; logopenic progressive aphasia; diffusion tensor imaging
9.  Microstructural brain injury in post-concussion syndrome after minor head injury 
Neuroradiology  2010;53(8):553-563.
After minor head injury (MHI), post-concussive symptoms commonly occur. The purpose of this study was to correlate the severity of post-concussive symptoms in MHI patients with MRI measures of microstructural brain injury, namely mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA), as well as the presence of microhaemorrhages.
Twenty MHI patients and 12 healthy controls were scanned at 3 T using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and high-resolution gradient recalled echo (HRGRE) T2*-weighted sequences. One patient was excluded from the analysis because of bilateral subdural haematomas. DTI data were preprocessed using Tract Based Spatial Statistics. The resulting MD and FA images were correlated with the severity of post-concussive symptoms evaluated with the Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms Questionnaire. The number and location of microhaemorrhages were assessed on the HRGRE T2*-weighted images.
Comparing patients with controls, there were no differences in MD. FA was decreased in the right temporal subcortical white matter. MD was increased in association with the severity of post-concussive symptoms in the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFO), the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and the superior longitudinal fasciculus. FA was reduced in association with the severity of post-concussive symptoms in the uncinate fasciculus, the IFO, the internal capsule and the corpus callosum, as well as in the parietal and frontal subcortical white matter. Microhaemorrhages were observed in one patient only.
The severity of post-concussive symptoms after MHI was significantly correlated with a reduction of white matter integrity, providing evidence of microstructural brain injury as a neuropathological substrate of the post-concussion syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3139069  PMID: 20924757
Craniocerebral trauma; Post-concussion syndrome; Diffusion tensor imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cognition disorder
10.  White Matter Disease Correlates with Lexical Retrieval Deficits in Primary Progressive Aphasia 
Objective: To relate fractional anisotropy (FA) changes associated with the semantic and logopenic variants of primary progressive aphasia (PPA) to measures of lexical retrieval.
Methods: We collected neuropsychological testing, volumetric magnetic resonance imaging, and diffusion-weighted imaging on semantic variant PPA (svPPA) (n = 11) and logopenic variant PPA (lvPPA) (n = 13) patients diagnosed using published criteria. We also acquired neuroimaging data on a group of demographically comparable healthy seniors (n = 34). FA was calculated and analyzed using a white matter (WM) tract-specific analysis approach. This approach utilizes anatomically guided data reduction to increase sensitivity and localizes results within canonically defined tracts. We used non-parametric, cluster-based statistical analysis to relate language performance to FA and determine regions of reduced FA in patients.
Results: We found widespread FA reductions in WM for both variants of PPA. FA was related to both confrontation naming and category naming fluency performance in left uncinate fasciculus and corpus callosum in svPPA and left superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi in lvPPA.
Conclusion: SvPPA and lvPPA are associated with distinct disruptions of a large-scale network implicated in lexical retrieval, and the WM disease in each phenotype may contribute to language impairments including lexical retrieval.
PMCID: PMC3873600  PMID: 24409166
frontotemporal dementia; primary progressive aphasia; diffusion-weighted MRI; magnetic resonance imaging; neuropsychology
11.  Magnetic resonance imaging correlates of first-episode psychosis in young adult male patients: combined analysis of grey and white matter 
Several patterns of grey and white matter changes have been separately described in young adults with first-episode psychosis. Concomitant investigation of grey and white matter densities in patients with first-episode psychosis without other psychiatric comorbidities that include all relevant imaging markers could provide clues to the neurodevelopmental hypothesis in schizophrenia.
We recruited patients with first-episode psychosis diagnosed according to the DSM-IV-TR and matched controls. All participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis and mean diffusivity voxel-based analysis (VBA) were used for grey matter data. Fractional anisotropy and axial, radial and mean diffusivity were analyzed using tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) for white matter data.
We included 15 patients and 16 controls. The mean diffusivity VBA showed significantly greater mean diffusivity in the first-episode psychosis than in the control group in the lingual gyrus bilaterally, the occipital fusiform gyrus bilaterally, the right lateral occipital gyrus and the right inferior temporal gyrus. Moreover, the TBSS analysis revealed a lower fractional anisotropy in the first-episode psychosis than in the control group in the genu of the corpus callosum, minor forceps, corticospinal tract, right superior longitudinal fasciculus, left middle cerebellar peduncle, left inferior longitudinal fasciculus and the posterior part of the fronto-occipital fasciculus. This analysis also revealed greater radial diffusivity in the first-episode psychosis than in the control group in the right corticospinal tract, right superior longitudinal fasciculus and left middle cerebellar peduncle.
The modest sample size and the absence of women in our series could limit the impact of our results.
Our results highlight the structural vulnerability of grey matter in posterior areas of the brain among young adult male patients with first-episode psychosis. Moreover, the concomitant greater radial diffusivity within several regions already revealed by the fractional anisotropy analysis supports the idea of a late myelination in patients with first-episode psychosis.
PMCID: PMC3447129  PMID: 22748698
12.  Diffusion Tensor Anisotropy in Adolescents and Adults 
Neuropsychobiology  2007;55(2):96-111.
We acquired diffusion tensor images on 33 normal adults aged 22–64 and 15 adolescents aged 14–21. We assessed relative anisotropy in stereotaxically located regions of interest in the internal capsule, corpus callosum, anterior thalamic radiations, frontal anterior fasciculus, fronto-occipital fasciculus, temporal lobe white matter, cingulum bundle, frontal inferior longitudinal fasciculus, frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus, and optic radiations. All of these structures except the optic radiations, corpus callosum, and frontal inferior longitudinal fasciculus exhibited differences in anisotropy between adolescents and adults. Areas with anisotropy increasing with age included the anterior limb of the internal capsule, superior levels of the frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus and the inferior portion of the temporal white matter. Areas with anisotropy decreasing with age included the posterior limb of the internal capsule, anterior thalamic radiations, fronto-occipital fasciculus, anterior portion of the frontal anterior fasciculus, inferior portion of the frontal superior longitudinal fasciculus, cingulum bundle and superior portion of the temporal axis. Sex differences were found in the majority of areas but were most marked in the cingulum bundle and internal capsule. These results suggest continuing white matter development between adolescence and adulthood.
PMCID: PMC2806688  PMID: 17587876
Age; White matter; Magnetic resonance imaging
13.  Investigating the contribution of ventral-lexical and dorsal-sublexical pathways during reading in bilinguals 
Several studies suggest the existence of ventral-lexical and dorsal-sublexical systems for reading. The relative contribution of these pathways can be manipulated by stimulus type and task demands. However, little is known about how bilinguals use these systems to read in their second language. In this study diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to investigate the relationship between white matter (WM) integrity and reaction time in a group of 12 Chinese–English bilingual and 11 age-matched English monolingual adults. Considering a dual-route model of reading, the following four tracts were isolated in both the left and right hemispheres using a tractography measurement approach. Ventral tracts included the uncinate fasciculus (UF) and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF). The dorsal tracts of interest were the arcuate fasciculus (AF) and the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). A significant correlation between the reaction time in a reading task and the mean diffusivity (MD) value was observed in the right UF in both bilingual and monolingual groups. Moreover, in the bilingual group we observed significantly more positive relationships between reaction time and MD in the right AF, and bilaterally in the SLF. We concluded that the relative contribution of the dorsal system for reading is greater in bilinguals than monolinguals. Further, these findings implicate a role of the right hemisphere in reading.
PMCID: PMC4094833  PMID: 25071533
bilingualism; DTI; tractography; reading; ventral lexical; dorsal sublexical
14.  Effects of early-life adversity on white matter diffusivity changes in patients at risk for major depression 
Relatives of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and people who experienced early-life adversity are at risk for MDD. The aim of our study was to investigate whether unaffected first-degree healthy relatives (UHRs) of patients with MDD show changes in white matter fibre connections compared with healthy controls and whether there are interactions between early-life adversity and these microstructural changes.
Unaffected, healthy first-degree relatives of patients with MDD and healthy controls without any family history for a psychiatric disease underwent high angular resolution diffusion imaging with 61 diffusion directions. Data were analyzed with tract-based spatial statistics, and findings were confirmed with tractography.
Twenty-one UHRs and 24 controls participated in our study. The UHRs showed greater fractional anisotropy than controls in the body and splenium of the corpus callosum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFO), left superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) and right fornix. The UHRs who experienced more early-life adversity had greater fractional anisotropy than those with less early-life adversity in the splenium of the corpus callosum, fornix, IFO and SLF; in controls, early-life adversity was found to be associated with decreased fractional anisotropy in these fibre tracts.
Studying participants’ strategies for coping with early-life adversity would have been helpful. Crossing fibres in tracts are a general limitation of the method used.
Altogether, our findings provide evidence for greater fractional anisotropy in UHRs and for interaction between early-life adversity and family risk on white matter tracts involved in cognitive–emotional processes. Whether stronger neural fibre connections are associated with more resilience against depression needs to be addressed in future studies.
PMCID: PMC3244497  PMID: 22008179
15.  Altered white matter microstructure is associated with social cognition and psychotic symptoms in 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome 
22q11.2 Microdeletion Syndrome (22q11DS) is a highly penetrant genetic mutation associated with a significantly increased risk for psychosis. Aberrant neurodevelopment may lead to inappropriate neural circuit formation and cerebral dysconnectivity in 22q11DS, which may contribute to symptom development. Here we examined: (1) differences between 22q11DS participants and typically developing controls in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures within white matter tracts; (2) whether there is an altered age-related trajectory of white matter pathways in 22q11DS; and (3) relationships between DTI measures, social cognition task performance, and positive symptoms of psychosis in 22q11DS and typically developing controls. Sixty-four direction diffusion weighted imaging data were acquired on 65 participants (36 22q11DS, 29 controls). We examined differences between 22q11DS vs. controls in measures of fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD), using both a voxel-based and region of interest approach. Social cognition domains assessed were: Theory of Mind and emotion recognition. Positive symptoms were assessed using the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes. Compared to typically developing controls, 22q11DS participants showed significantly lower AD and RD in multiple white matter tracts, with effects of greatest magnitude for AD in the superior longitudinal fasciculus. Additionally, 22q11DS participants failed to show typical age-associated changes in FA and RD in the left inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Higher AD in the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFO) and left uncinate fasciculus was associated with better social cognition in 22q11DS and controls. In contrast, greater severity of positive symptoms was associated with lower AD in bilateral regions of the IFO in 22q11DS. White matter microstructure in tracts relevant to social cognition is disrupted in 22q11DS, and may contribute to psychosis risk.
PMCID: PMC4227518  PMID: 25426042
DTI; theory of mind; psychosis; schizophrenia; velocardiofacial syndrome; axial diffusivity; radial diffusivity; prodromal
16.  Differences in white matter reflect atypical developmental trajectory in autism: A Tract-based Spatial Statistics study☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2012;1(1):48-56.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which white matter (WM) maturation is affected. We assessed WM integrity in 16 adolescents and 14 adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and in matched neurotypical controls (NT) using diffusion weighted imaging and Tract-based Spatial Statistics. Decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) was observed in adolescents with ASD in tracts involved in emotional face processing, language, and executive functioning, including the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus and the inferior and superior longitudinal fasciculi. Remarkably, no differences in FA were observed between ASD and NT adults.
We evaluated the effect of age on WM development across the entire age range. Positive correlations between FA values and age were observed in the right inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, the left superior longitudinal fasciculus, the corpus callosum, and the cortical spinal tract of ASD participants, but not in NT participants.
Our data underscore the dynamic nature of brain development in ASD, showing the presence of an atypical process of WM maturation, that appears to normalize over time and could be at the basis of behavioral improvements often observed in high-functioning autism.
► Autism spectrum disorders are associated with white matter developmental abnormalities. ► TBSS was applied to study FA changes in adolescents and in adults with autism. ► Maturational effects are observed in autism.
PMCID: PMC3757732  PMID: 24179736
ADOS, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule; ADI-R, Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised; AQ, Autism Quotient; ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorders; ATR, anterior thalamic radiations; CC, corpus callosum; CT, corticospinal tract; DTI, Diffusion Tensor Imaging; DTT, Diffusion Tensor Tractography; EF, executive functions; FA, fractional anisotropy; IFOF, inferior froto-occipital fasciculus; ILF, inferior longitudinal fasciculus; NT, neurotypical; PIQ, Performance Intelligence Quotient; SLF, superior longitudinal fasciculus; TBSS, Tract-based Spatial Statistics; TFCE, Threshold-free Cluster Enhancement; TE, echo time; TR, repetition time; UNC, uncinate fasciculus; VBM, Voxel-Based Morphometry; VBS, Voxel based Statistics of FA Images (VBM-like); WM, white matter; Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Autism spectrum disorder; Brain connectivity; Fractional anisotropy; Brain development; Brain maturation
17.  Individual structural differences in left inferior parietal area are associated with schoolchildrens' arithmetic scores 
Arithmetic skill is of critical importance for academic achievement, professional success and everyday life, and childhood is the key period to acquire this skill. Neuroimaging studies have identified that left parietal regions are a key neural substrate for representing arithmetic skill. Although the relationship between functional brain activity in left parietal regions and arithmetic skill has been studied in detail, it remains unclear about the relationship between arithmetic achievement and structural properties in left inferior parietal area in schoolchildren. The current study employed a combination of voxel-based morphometry (VBM) for high-resolution T1-weighted images and fiber tracking on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine the relationship between structural properties in the inferior parietal area and arithmetic achievement in 10-year-old schoolchildren. VBM of the T1-weighted images revealed that individual differences in arithmetic scores were significantly and positively correlated with the gray matter (GM) volume in the left intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Fiber tracking analysis revealed that the forceps major, left superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), bilateral inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) were the primary pathways connecting the left IPS with other brain areas. Furthermore, the regression analysis of the probabilistic pathways revealed a significant and positive correlation between the fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the left SLF, ILF and bilateral IFOF and arithmetic scores. The brain structure-behavior correlation analyses indicated that the GM volumes in the left IPS and the FA values in the tract pathways connecting left IPS were both related to children's arithmetic achievement. The present findings provide evidence that individual structural differences in the left IPS are associated with arithmetic scores in schoolchildren.
PMCID: PMC3854708  PMID: 24367320
arithmetical skill; left intraparietal sulcus; structure-behavior correlation; voxel-based morphometry; fiber tracking
18.  White Matter Integrity Predicts Delay Discounting Behavior in 9- to 23-Year-Olds: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study 
Journal of cognitive neuroscience  2009;21(7):1406-1421.
Healthy participants (n = 79), ages 9–23, completed a delay discounting task assessing the extent to which the value of a monetary reward declines as the delay to its receipt increases. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to evaluate how individual differences in delay discounting relate to variation in fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) within whole-brain white matter using voxel-based regressions. Given that rapid prefrontal lobe development is occurring during this age range and that functional imaging studies have implicated the prefrontal cortex in discounting behavior, we hypothesized that differences in FA and MD would be associated with alterations in the discounting rate. The analyses revealed a number of clusters where less impulsive performance on the delay discounting task was associated with higher FA and lower MD. The clusters were located primarily in bilateral frontal and temporal lobes and were localized within white matter tracts, including portions of the inferior and superior longitudinal fasciculi, anterior thalamic radiation, uncinate fasciculus, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, corticospinal tract, and splenium of the corpus callosum. FA increased and MD decreased with age in the majority of these regions. Some, but not all, of the discounting/ DTI associations remained significant after controlling for age. Findings are discussed in terms of both developmental and age-independent effects of white matter organization on discounting behavior.
PMCID: PMC4203708  PMID: 18767918
19.  Multivariate pattern analysis of DTI reveals differential white matter in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder 
Human Brain Mapping  2013;35(6):2643-2651.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies have revealed group differences in white matter between patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and healthy controls. However, the results of these studies were based on average differences between the two groups, and therefore had limited clinical applicability. The objective of this study was to investigate whether fractional anisotropy (FA) of white matter can be used to discriminate between patients with OCD and healthy controls at the level of the individual. DTI data were acquired from 28 OCD patients and 28 demographically matched healthy controls, scanned using a 3T MRI system. Differences in FA values of white matter between OCD and healthy controls were examined using a multivariate pattern classification technique known as support vector machine (SVM). SVM applied to FA images correctly identified OCD patients with a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 82% resulting in a statistically significant accuracy of 84% (P ≤ 0.001). This discrimination was based on a distributed network including bilateral prefrontal and temporal regions, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, superior fronto-parietal fasciculus, splenium of corpus callosum and left middle cingulum bundle. The present study demonstrates subtle and spatially distributed white matter abnormalities in individuals with OCD, and provides preliminary support for the suggestion that that these could be used to aid the identification of individuals with OCD in clinical practice. Hum Brain Mapp 35:2643–2651, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
PMCID: PMC4216414  PMID: 24048702
obsessive-compulsive disorder; fractional anisotropy; diffusion tensor imaging; support vector machine; multivariate pattern analysis
20.  Pediatric traumatic brain injury: Language outcomes and their relationship to the arcuate fasciculus 
Brain and Language  2013;127(3):388-398.
•Diffusion weighted MRI can assist in the prognosis of neuropsychological deficits.•We explored white matter changes and language outcome in people with brain injury.•Sentence generation impairments were found in dysarthric participants.•Impairments were linked to reduced corpus callosum and left arcuate fasciculus size.•This dual blow seriously reduces the potential for language reorganisation.
Pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI) may result in long-lasting language impairments alongside dysarthria, a motor-speech disorder. Whether this co-morbidity is due to the functional links between speech and language networks, or to widespread damage affecting both motor and language tracts, remains unknown.
Here we investigated language function and diffusion metrics (using diffusion-weighted tractography) within the arcuate fasciculus, the uncinate fasciculus, and the corpus callosum in 32 young people after TBI (approximately half with dysarthria) and age-matched healthy controls (n = 17). Only participants with dysarthria showed impairments in language, affecting sentence formulation and semantic association. In the whole TBI group, sentence formulation was best predicted by combined corpus callosum and left arcuate volumes, suggesting this “dual blow” seriously reduces the potential for functional reorganisation. Word comprehension was predicted by fractional anisotropy in the right arcuate. The co-morbidity between dysarthria and language deficits therefore seems to be the consequence of multiple tract damage.
PMCID: PMC3988975  PMID: 23756046
Pediatric brain injury; Expressive language; Dysarthria; Tractography; Arcuate fasciculus.
21.  DTI and MTR abnormalities in schizophrenia: Analysis of white matter integrity 
NeuroImage  2005;26(4):1109-1118.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies in schizophrenia demonstrate lower anisotropic diffusion within white matter due either to loss of coherence of white matter fiber tracts, to changes in the number and/or density of interconnecting fiber tracts, or to changes in myelination, although methodology as well as localization of such changes differ between studies. The aim of this study is to localize and to specify further DTI abnormalities in schizophrenia by combining DTI with magnetization transfer imaging (MTI), a technique sensitive to myelin and axonal alterations in order to increase specificity of DTI findings. 21 chronic schizophrenics and 26 controls were scanned using Line-Scan-Diffusion-Imaging and T1-weighted techniques with and without a saturation pulse (MT). Diffusion information was used to normalize co-registered maps of fractional anisotropy (FA) and magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) to a study-specific template, using the multi-channel daemon algorithm, designed specifically to deal with multi-directional tensor information. Diffusion anisotropy was decreased in schizophrenia in the following brain regions: the fornix, the corpus callosum, bilaterally in the cingulum bundle, bilaterally in the superior occipito-frontal fasciculus, bilaterally in the internal capsule, in the right inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus and the left arcuate fasciculus. MTR maps demonstrated changes in the corpus callosum, fornix, right internal capsule, and the superior occipito-frontal fasciculus bilaterally; however, no changes were noted in the anterior cingulum bundle, the left internal capsule, the arcuate fasciculus, or inferior occipito-frontal fasciculus. In addition, the right posterior cingulum bundle showed MTR but not FA changes in schizophrenia. These findings suggest that, while some of the diffusion abnormalities in schizophrenia are likely due to abnormal coherence, or organization of the fiber tracts, some of these abnormalities may, in fact, be attributed to or coincide with myelin/axonal disruption.
PMCID: PMC2768051  PMID: 15878290
Diffusion tensor imaging; Magnetization transfer ratio; Schizophrenia; White matter integrity
22.  Preterm Birth Results in Alterations in Neural Connectivity at Age 16 Years 
NeuroImage  2010;54(4):2563-2570.
Very low birth weight preterm (PT) children are at high risk for brain injury. Employing diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), we tested the hypothesis that PT adolescents would demonstrate microstructural white matter disorganization relative to term controls at 16 years of age. Forty-four PT subjects (600 - 1250 grams birth weight) without neonatal brain injury and 41 term controls were evaluated at age 16 years with DTI, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - III (WISC), the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test - Revised (PPVT), and the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP).
PT subjects scored lower than term subjects on WISC full scale (p = 0.003), verbal (p = 0.043), and performance IQ tests (p = 0.001), as well as CTOPP phonological awareness (p = 0.004), but scored comparably to term subjects on PPVT and CTOPP Rapid Naming tests. PT subjects had lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in multiple regions including bilateral uncinate fasciculi (left: p = 0.01; right: p = 0.004), bilateral external capsules (left: p < 0.001; right: p < 0.001), the splenium of the corpus callosum (p = 0.008), and white matter serving the inferior frontal gyrus bilaterally (left: p < 0.001; right: p = 0.011). FA values in both the left and right uncinate fasciculi correlated with PPVT scores (a semantic language task) in the PT subjects (left: r = 0.314, p = 0.038; right: r = 0.336, p = 0.026). FA values in the left and right arcuate fasciculi correlated with CTOPP Rapid Naming scores (a phonologic task) in the PT subjects (left: r = 0.424, p = 0.004; right: r = 0.301, p = 0.047).
These data support for the first time that dual pathways underlying language function are present in PT adolescents. The striking bilateral dorsal correlations for the PT group suggest that prematurely born subjects rely more heavily on the right hemisphere than typically developing adults for performance of phonological language tasks. These findings may represent either a delay in maturation or the engagement of alternative neural pathways for language in the developing PT brain.
PMCID: PMC3020252  PMID: 21073965
Preterm; adolescence; diffusion tensor imaging; dual language system
23.  Evaluation of Diffusion-Tensor Imaging-Based Global Search and Tractography for Tumor Surgery Close to the Language System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e50132.
Pre-operative planning and intra-operative guidance in neurosurgery require detailed information about the location of functional areas and their anatomo-functional connectivity. In particular, regarding the language system, post-operative deficits such as aphasia can be avoided. By combining functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging, the connectivity between functional areas can be reconstructed by tractography techniques that need to cope with limitations such as limited resolution and low anisotropic diffusion close to functional areas. Tumors pose particular challenges because of edema, displacement effects on brain tissue and infiltration of white matter. Under these conditions, standard fiber tracking methods reconstruct pathways of insufficient quality. Therefore, robust global or probabilistic approaches are required. In this study, two commonly used standard fiber tracking algorithms, streamline propagation and tensor deflection, were compared with a previously published global search, Gibbs tracking and a connection-oriented probabilistic tractography approach. All methods were applied to reconstruct neuronal pathways of the language system of patients undergoing brain tumor surgery, and control subjects. Connections between Broca and Wernicke areas via the arcuate fasciculus (AF) and the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) were validated by a clinical expert to ensure anatomical feasibility, and compared using distance- and diffusion-based similarity metrics to evaluate their agreement on pathway locations. For both patients and controls, a strong agreement between all methods was observed regarding the location of the AF. In case of the IFOF however, standard fiber tracking and Gibbs tracking predominantly identified the inferior longitudinal fasciculus that plays a secondary role in semantic language processing. In contrast, global search resolved connections in almost every case via the IFOF which could be confirmed by probabilistic fiber tracking. The results show that regarding the language system, our global search is superior to clinically applied conventional fiber tracking strategies with results similar to time-consuming global or probabilistic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3538752  PMID: 23308093
24.  Assessing White Matter Integrity as a Function of Abstinence Duration in Former Cocaine-Dependent Individuals 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2010;114(2-3):159-168.
Current cocaine-dependent users show reductions in white matter (WM) integrity, especially in cortical regions associated with cognitive control that have been associated with inhibitory dysfunction. A key question is whether these white matter differences are present following abstinence from drug use. To address this, WM integrity was examined using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) obtained on 43 cocaine abstinent patients (abstinence duration ranged between five days and 102 weeks) and 43 non-using controls. Additionally, a cross-sectional comparison separated the patients into three groups (short-term, mid-term and long-term) based upon duration of cocaine abstinence. The 43 cocaine abstinent patients showed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) in the left anterior callosal fibers, left genu of the corpus callosum, right superior longitudinal fasciculus, right callosal fibers and the superior corona radiata bilaterally when compared against non-using controls. Higher FA in the cocaine abstinent patients was observed in the splenium of the corpus callosum and right superior longitudinal fasciculus. Differences between the cocaine abstinent groups were observed bilaterally in the inferior longitudinal fasciculus, right anterior thalamic radiation, right ventral posterolateral nucleus of the thalamus, left superior corona radiata, superior longitudinal fasciculus bilaterally, right cingulum and the WM of the right precentral gyrus. The results identified WM differences between cocaine abstinent patients and controls as well as distinct differences between abstinent subgroups. The findings suggest that specific white matter differences persist throughout abstinence while other, spatially distinct, differences discriminate as a function of abstinence duration. These differences may, therefore, represent brain changes that mark recovery from addiction.
PMCID: PMC3062648  PMID: 21075564
Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Relapse; Cingulum; Corpus Callosum; Fractional Anisotropy
25.  White Matter Tracts Associated with Set-Shifting in Healthy Aging 
Neuropsychologia  2009;47(13):2835-2842.
Attentional set-shifting ability, commonly assessed with the Trail Making Test (TMT), decreases with increasing age in adults. Since set-shifting performance relies on activity in widespread brain regions, deterioration of the white matter tracts that connect these regions may underlie the age-related decrease in performance. We used an automated fiber tracking method to investigate the relationship between white matter integrity in several cortical association tracts and TMT performance in a sample of 24 healthy adults, 21 – 80 years. Diffusion tensor images were used to compute average fractional anisotropy (FA) for five cortical association tracts, the corpus callosum (CC), and the corticospinal tract (CST), which served as a control. Results showed that advancing age was associated with declines in set-shifting performance and with decreased FA in the CC and in association tracts that connect frontal cortex to more posterior brain regions, including the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), uncinate fasciculus (UF), and superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). Declines in average FA in these tracts, and in average FA of the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), were associated with increased time to completion on the set-shifting subtask of the TMT but not with the simple sequencing subtask. FA values in these tracts were strong mediators of the effect of age on set-shifting performance. Automated tractography methods can enhance our understanding of the fiber systems involved in performance of specific cognitive tasks and of the functional consequences of age-related changes in those systems.
PMCID: PMC2749901  PMID: 19540862

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