Our recent work has shown that older adults are disproportionately impaired at bimanual tasks when the two hands are moving out of phase with each other [Bangert, A. S., Reuter-Lorenz, P. A., Walsh, C. M., Schachter, A. B., & Seidler, R. D. Bimanual coordination and aging: Neurobehavioral implications. Neuropsychologia, 48, 1165–1170, 2010]. Interhemispheric interactions play a key role during such bimanual movements to prevent interference from the opposite hemisphere. Declines in corpus callosum (CC) size and microstructure with advancing age have been well documented, but their contributions to age deficits in bimanual function have not been identified. In the current study, we used structural magnetic resonance and diffusion tensor imaging to investigate age-related changes in the relationships between callosal macrostructure, microstructure, and motor performance on tapping tasks requiring differing degrees of interhemispheric interaction. We found that older adults demonstrated disproportionately poorer performance on out-of-phase bimanual control, replicating our previous results. In addition, older adults had smaller anterior CC size and poorer white matter integrity in the callosal midbody than their younger counterparts. Surprisingly, larger CC size and better integrity of callosal microstructure in regions connecting sensorimotor cortices were associated with poorer motor performance on tasks requiring high levels of interhemispheric interaction in young adults. Conversely, in older adults, better performance on these tasks was associated with larger size and better CC microstructure integrity within the same callosal regions. These findings implicate age-related declines in callosal size and integrity as a key contributor to bimanual control deficits. Further, the differential age-related involvement of transcallosal pathways reported here raises new questions about the role of the CC in bimanual control.
MRI studies, including recent diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies, have shown corpus callosum abnormalities in children prenatally exposed to alcohol, especially in the posterior regions. These abnormalities appear across the range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Several studies have demonstrated cognitive correlates of callosal abnormalities in FASD including deficits in visual-motor skill, verbal learning, and executive functioning. The goal of this study was to determine if inter-hemispheric structural connectivity abnormalities in FASD are associated with disrupted inter-hemispheric functional connectivity and disrupted cognition.
Twenty-one children with FASD and 23 matched controls underwent a six minute resting-state functional MRI scan as well as anatomical imaging and DTI. Using a semiautomated method, we parsed the corpus callosum and delineated seven inter-hemispheric white matter tracts with DTI tractography. Cortical regions of interest (ROIs) at the distal ends of these tracts were identified. Right-left correlations in resting fMRI signal were computed for these sets of ROIs and group comparisons were done. Correlations with facial dysmorphology, cognition, and DTI measures were computed.
A significant group difference in inter-hemispheric functional connectivity was seen in a posterior set of ROIs, the para-central region. Children with FASD had functional connectivity that was 12% lower than controls in this region. Sub-group analyses were not possible due to small sample size, but the data suggest that there were effects across the FASD spectrum. No significant association with facial dysmorphology was found. Para-central functional connectivity was significantly correlated with DTI mean diffusivity, a measure of microstructural integrity, in posterior callosal tracts in controls but not in FASD. Significant correlations were seen between these structural and functional measures and Wechsler perceptual reasoning ability.
Inter-hemispheric functional connectivity disturbances were observed in children with FASD relative to controls. The disruption was measured in medial parietal regions (para-central) that are connected by posterior callosal fiber projections. We have previously shown microstructural abnormalities in these same posterior callosal regions and the current study suggests a possible relationship between the two. These measures have clinical relevance as they are associated with cognitive functioning.
Fetal alcohol (FAS, FASD); Brain; functional MRI (fMRI); resting-state, connectivity; neuropsychological
A reduction in interhemispheric connectivity is thought to contribute to the etiology of schizophrenia. Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) measures the diffusion of water and can be used to describe the integrity of the corpus callosum white matter tracts, thereby providing information concerning possible interhemispheric connectivity abnormalities. Previous DTI studies in schizophrenia are inconsistent in reporting decreased Fractional Anisotropy (FA), a measure of anisotropic diffusion, within different portions of the corpus callosum. Moreover, none of these studies has investigated corpus callosum systematically, using anatomical subdivisions.
DTI and structural MRI scans were obtained from 32 chronic schizophrenic subjects and 42 controls. Corpus callosum cross sectional area and its probabilistic subdivisions were determined automatically from structural MRI scans using a model based deformable contour segmentation. These subdivisions employ a previously generated probabilistic subdivision atlas, based on fiber tractography and anatomical lobe subdivision. The structural scan was then co-registered with the DTI scan and the anatomical corpus callosum subdivisions were propagated to the associated FA map.
Results revealed decreased FA within parts of the corpus interconnecting frontal regions in schizophrenia compared with controls, but no significant changes for callosal fibers interconnecting parietal and temporo-occipital brain regions. In addition, integrity of the anterior corpus was statistically significantly correlated with negative as well as positive symptoms, while posterior measures correlated with positive symptoms only.
This study provides quantitative evidence for a reduction of interhemispheric brain connectivity in schizophrenia, involving corpus callosum, and further points to frontal connections as possibly disrupted in schizophrenia.
Quantitative tractography may provide insights into regional heterogeneity of changes in white matter structure in normal ageing. Here we examine how brain atrophy and white matter lesions affect correlations between tract shape, tract integrity and age in a range of frontal and non-frontal tracts in 90 non-demented subjects aged over 65 years using an enhanced version of probabilistic neighbourhood tractography. This novel method for automatic single seed point placement employs unsupervised learning and streamline selection to provide reliable and accurate tract segmentation, whilst also indicating how the shape of an individual tract compares to that of a predefined reference tract. There were significant negative correlations between tract shape similarity to reference tracts derived from a young brain white matter atlas and age in genu and splenium of corpus callosum. Controlling for intracranial and lateral ventricle volume, the latter of which increased significantly with age, attenuated these correlations by 40 and 84 % respectively, indicating that this age-related change in callosal tract topology is significantly mediated by global atrophy and ventricular enlargement. In accordance with the ‘frontal ageing’ hypothesis, there was a significant positive correlation between mean diffusivity (〈D〉) and age, and a significant negative correlation between fractional anisotropy (FA) and age in corpus callosum genu; correlations not seen in splenium. Significant positive correlations were also observed between 〈D〉 and age in bilateral cingulum cingulate gyri, uncinate fasciculi and right corticospinal tract. This pattern of correlations was not, however, reproduced when those subjects with significant white matter lesion load were analyzed separately from those without. These data therefore suggest that brain atrophy and white matter lesions play a significant role in driving regional patterns of age-related changes in white matter tract shape and integrity.
Ageing; white matter; magnetic resonance imaging; water diffusion tensor; tractography
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.
Motor impairments following unilateral brain injuries may be related to changes in the corpus callosum. The purpose of this study was to determine if the corpus callosum is impacted differently in pediatric versus adult hemiplegia. Diffusion tensor imaging was completed on 41 participants (11 pediatric hemiplegia, 10 adult hemiplegia, 10 pediatric control and 10 adult control). Fractional anisotropy values and cross-sectional areas for five regions of the corpus callosum were compared between subject groups. Additionally, the amount of involuntary activity in the paretic elbow was quantified during non-paretic elbow flexion tasks for a subset of pediatric hemiplegia participants. Fractional anisotropy values were reduced in pediatric hemiplegia compared to pediatric control subjects in callosal regions corresponding to premotor and supplementary motor areas, primary sensory cortex, and parietal, temporal, and occipital cortices. Differences in fractional anisotropy between adult stroke and adult controls were only found in the region corresponding to parietal, temporal, and occipital cortices. Cross-sectional area was affected in all regions of the corpus callosum in pediatric hemiplegia, but only in the primary sensory region in adult hemiplegia. Additionally, changes in the cross-sectional areas were correlated with involuntary mirror movements in the pediatric hemiplegia group. In conclusion, the corpus callosum is affected to a greater extent in pediatric compared to adult hemiplegia, which may explain why unsuppressed mirror movements and difficulty with bimanual coordination are greater problems in this population.
•DTI was used to compare the corpus callosum between pediatric and adult hemiplegia.•Pediatric hemiplegia subjects had decreased fractional anisotropy.•Cross-sectional area of the corpus callosum was reduced in pediatric hemiplegia.•Corpus callosum was less affected in adult hemiplegia versus pediatric hemiplegia.•Corpus callosum changes were correlated with bimanual coordination deficits.
Corpus callosum; Hemiplegia; Mirror movements; Diffusion tensor imaging
This represents the first graph theory based brain network analysis study in bipolar disorder, a chronic and disabling psychiatric disorder characterized by severe mood swings. Many imaging studies have investigated white matter in bipolar disorder with results suggesting abnormal white matter structural integrity, particularly in the fronto-limbic and callosal systems. However, many inconsistencies remain in the literature, and no study to-date has conducted brain network analyses using a graph-theoretic approach.
We acquired 64-direction diffusion-weighted MRI on 25 euthymic bipolar I disorder subjects and 24 gender and age equivalent healthy subjects. White matter integrity measures including fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity were compared in the whole brain. Additionally, structural connectivity matrices based on whole brain deterministic tractography were constructed followed by the computation of both global and local brain network measures. We also designed novel metrics to further probe inter-hemispheric integration.
Network analyses revealed that the bipolar brain networks exhibited significantly longer characteristic path length, lower clustering coefficient, and lower global efficiency relative to those of controls. Further analyses revealed impaired inter-hemispheric but relatively preserved intra-hemispheric integration. These findings were supported by whole brain white matter analyses that revealed significantly lower integrity in the corpus callosum in bipolar subjects. There were also abnormalities in nodal network measures in structures within the limbic system, especially the left hippocampus, the left lateral orbito-frontal cortex, and the bilateral isthmus cingulate.
These results suggest abnormalities in structural network organization in bipolar disorder, particularly in inter-hemispheric integration and within the limbic system.
bipolar disorder; DTI; brain network analysis; brain imaging; hemispheric integration; corpus callosum; limbic system
White matter tracts are like the “highways” of the brain, allowing for fast and efficient communication among diverse brain regions. The purpose of this paper is to review the results of autism studies that have used Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), which is a neuroimaging method that allows us to examine the structure and integrity of these white matter tracts. From the 48 studies we reviewed, persons with ASD tended to have decreased white matter integrity spanning across many regions of the brain but most consistently in regions such as the corpus callosum (connecting the left and right hemispheres and associated with motor skill and complex information processing), the cingulum bundles (connecting regions along the middle-line of the brain with important frontal projections and associated with executive function), and white matter tracts that pass through the temporal lobe (connecting temporal lobe regions with other brain regions and associated with social functioning). The pattern of results in these studies suggests that the white matter tracts may be atypical in persons with ASD. Additionally, the review suggests that people with ASD may not exhibit the typical left-greater-than-right-brain asymmetry in white matter integrity compared to people with typical development. White matter alterations in persons with ASD are a target of emerging interventions and may help identify the brain basis of individual differences in this population.
White matter tracts of the brain allow neurons and neuronal networks to communicate and function with high efficiency. The aim of this review is to briefly introduce Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) methods that examine white matter tracts and then to give an overview of the studies that have investigated white matter integrity in the brains of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). From the 48 studies we reviewed, persons with ASD tended to have decreased fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity in white matter tracts spanning many regions of the brain but most consistently in regions such as the corpus callosum, cingulum, and aspects of the temporal lobe. This decrease in fractional anisotropy was often accompanied by increased radial diffusivity. Additionally, the review suggests possible atypical lateralization in some white matter tracts of the brain and a possible atypical developmental trajectory of white matter microstructure in persons with ASD. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Neuroimaging; Autism; White Matter
Capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) are New World primates with relatively large brains for their body size. The developmental trajectories of several brain regions – including cortical white matter, frontal lobe white matter, and basal ganglia nuclei – are similar to humans. Additionally, capuchins have independently evolved several behavioral and anatomical characteristics in common with humans and chimpanzees – including complex manipulative abilities, use of tools, and the use of precision grips – making them interesting species for studies of comparative brain morphology and organization. Here we report the first investigation into the development of the corpus callosum and its regional subdivisions in capuchins. Corpus callosum development was quantified using high-resolution structural MRI images from 39 socially reared subjects (male n = 22; female n = 18) ranging in age from 4 days (infancy) – 20 years (middle adulthood). The total area of the corpus callosum and the subdivisions of the genu, rostral midbody, medial midbody, caudal midbody, and splenium were traced from the midsagittal section. Total corpus callosum area displayed significant differences across this time span and was best explained by quadratic growth. Sustained linear growth was observed in the subdivisions of the genu, rostral midbody, and splenium; sustained quadratic growth was seen in the subdivision of the medial midbody. Differences in growth were not detected in the subdivision of the caudal midbody. Females had a larger raw area of the total CC and of the medial midbody and caudal midbody throughout the lifespan. Our results indicate that capuchins show continued white matter development beyond adolescence in regions related to cognitive and motor development.
brain development; Cebus; corpus callosum
We set out to determine functional white matter (WM) connections passing through the canine corpus callosum useful for subsequent studies of canine brains that serve as models for human WM pathway disease. Based on prior studies, we anticipated that the anterior corpus callosum would send projections to the anterior cerebral cortex while progressively posterior segments would send projections to more posterior cortex.
A post mortem canine brain was imaged using a 7T MRI producing 100 micron isotropic resolution DTI analyzed by tractography. Using ROIs within cortical locations, which were confirmed by a Nissl stain that identified distinct cortical architecture, we successfully identified 6 important WM pathways. We also compared fractional anisotropy (FA), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD) in tracts passing through the genu and splenium.
Callosal fibers were organized based upon cortical destination, i.e. fibers from the genu project to the frontal cortex. Histologic results identified the motor cortex based on cytoarchitectonic criteria that allowed placement of ROIs to discriminate between frontal and parietal lobes. We also identified cytoarchitecture typical of the orbital frontal, anterior frontal, and occipital regions and placed ROIs accordingly. FA, ADC, RD and AD values were all higher in posterior corpus callosum fiber tracts.
Using 6 cortical ROIs, we identified 6 major white matter tracts that reflect major functional divisions of the cerebral hemispheres and we derived quantitative values that can be used for study of canine models of human WM pathological states.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term to describe the spectrum of disorders of impaired motor and sensory function caused by a brain lesion occurring early during development. Diffusion MRI and tractography have been shown to be useful in the study of white matter (WM) microstructure in tracts likely to be impacted by the static brain lesion.
The purpose of this study was to identify WM pathways with altered connectivity in children with unilateral CP caused by periventricular white matter lesions using a whole-brain connectivity approach.
Data of 50 children with unilateral CP caused by periventricular white matter lesions (5–17 years; manual ability classification system [MACS] I = 25/II = 25) and 17 children with typical development (CTD; 7–16 years) were analysed. Structural and High Angular Resolution Diffusion weighted Images (HARDI; 64 directions, b = 3000 s/mm2) were acquired at 3 T. Connectomes were calculated using whole-brain probabilistic tractography in combination with structural parcellation of the cortex and subcortical structures. Connections with altered fractional anisotropy (FA) in children with unilateral CP compared to CTD were identified using network-based statistics (NBS). The relationship between FA and performance of the impaired hand in bimanual tasks (Assisting Hand Assessment—AHA) was assessed in connections that showed significant differences in FA compared to CTD.
FA was reduced in children with unilateral CP compared to CTD. Seven pathways, including the corticospinal, thalamocortical, and fronto-parietal association pathways were identified simultaneously in children with left and right unilateral CP. There was a positive relationship between performance of the impaired hand in bimanual tasks and FA within the cortico-spinal and thalamo-cortical pathways (r2 = 0.16–0.44; p < 0.05).
This study shows that network-based analysis of structural connectivity can identify alterations in FA in unilateral CP, and that these alterations in FA are related to clinical function. Application of this connectome-based analysis to investigate alterations in connectivity following treatment may elucidate the neurological correlates of improved functioning due to intervention.
•Alterations in FA in children with CP were assessed using the connectome approach.•FA is reduced in corticospinal, thalamocortical, and association tracts in CP.•Higher FA is associated with better performance in bimanual tasks.
AHA, assisting hand assessment; CDGM, cortical and deep grey matter; CP, cerebral palsy; CTD, children with typical development; DROP-R, detection and replacement of outliers prior to resampling; FA, fractional anisotropy; FMAM, fit model to all measurements; GMFCS, gross motor function classification system; HARDI, high angular resolution diffusion imaging; HOMOR, higher order model outlier rejection; MACS, manual ability classification system; NBS, network based statistic; PWM, periventricular white matter; Congenital hemiplegia; Connectome; Diffusion MRI; Tractography; Unilateral cerebral palsy
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is increasingly used in various diseases as a clinical tool for assessing the integrity of the brain’s white matter. Reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) and an increased apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) are nonspecific findings in most pathological processes affecting the brain’s parenchyma. At present, there is no gold standard for validating diffusion measures, which are dependent on the scanning protocols, methods of the softwares and observers. Therefore, the normal variation and repeatability effects on commonly-derived measures should be carefully examined.
Thirty healthy volunteers (mean age 37.8 years, SD 11.4) underwent DTI of the brain with 3T MRI. Region-of-interest (ROI) -based measurements were calculated at eleven anatomical locations in the pyramidal tracts, corpus callosum and frontobasal area. Two ROI-based methods, the circular method (CM) and the freehand method (FM), were compared. Both methods were also compared by performing measurements on a DTI phantom. The intra- and inter-observer variability (coefficient of variation, or CV%) and repeatability (intra-class correlation coefficient, or ICC) were assessed for FA and ADC values obtained using both ROI methods.
The mean FA values for all of the regions were 0.663 with the CM and 0.621 with the FM. For both methods, the FA was highest in the splenium of the corpus callosum. The mean ADC value was 0.727 ×10-3 mm2/s with the CM and 0.747 ×10-3 mm2/s with the FM, and both methods found the ADC to be lowest in the corona radiata. The CV percentages of the derived measures were < 13% with the CM and < 10% with the FM. In most of the regions, the ICCs were excellent or moderate for both methods. With the CM, the highest ICC for FA was in the posterior limb of the internal capsule (0.90), and with the FM, it was in the corona radiata (0.86). For ADC, the highest ICC was found in the genu of the corpus callosum (0.93) with the CM and in the uncinate fasciculus (0.92) with FM.
With both ROI-based methods variability was low and repeatability was moderate. The circular method gave higher repeatability, but variation was slightly lower using the freehand method. The circular method can be recommended for the posterior limb of the internal capsule and splenium of the corpus callosum, and the freehand method for the corona radiata.
While the hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is corticospinal tract in combination with lower motor neuron degeneration, the clinical involvement of both compartments is characteristically variable and the site of onset debated. We sought to establish whether there is a consistent signature of cerebral white matter abnormalities in heterogeneous ALS cases.
In this observational study, diffusion tensor imaging was applied in a whole-brain analysis of 24 heterogeneous patients with ALS and well-matched healthy controls. Tract-based spatial statistics were used, with optimized voxel-based morphometry of T1 images to determine any associated gray matter involvement.
A consistent reduction in fractional anisotropy was demonstrated in the corpus callosum of the ALS group, extending rostrally and bilaterally to the region of the primary motor cortices, independent of the degree of clinical upper motor neuron involvement. Matched regional radial diffusivity increase supported the concept of anterograde degeneration of callosal fibers observed pathologically. Gray matter reductions were observed bilaterally in primary motor and supplementary motor regions, and also in the anterior cingulate and temporal lobe regions. A post hoc group comparison model incorporating significant values for fractional anisotropy, radial diffusivity, and gray matter was 92% sensitive, 88% specific, with an accuracy of 90%.
Callosal involvement is a consistent feature of ALS, independent of clinical upper motor neuron involvement, and may reflect independent bilateral cortical involvement or interhemispheric spread of pathology. The predominantly rostral corticospinal tract involvement further supports the concept of independent cortical degeneration even in those patients with ALS with predominantly lower motor neuron involvement clinically.
= amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
= revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale;
= corpus callosum;
= corticospinal tract;
= disease duration;
= diffusion tensor imaging;
= fractional anisotropy;
= frontotemporal dementia;
= gray matter;
= lower motor neuron;
= mean diffusivity;
= primary lateral sclerosis;
= progressive muscular atrophy;
= radial diffusivity;
= upper motor neuron;
= white matter.
Correlation of white matter microstructure with various cognitive processing tasks and with overall intelligence has been previously demonstrated. We investigate the correlation of white matter microstructure with various higher-order auditory processing tasks, including interpretation of speech-in-noise, recognition of low-pass frequency filtered words, and interpretation of time-compressed sentences at two different values of compression. These tests are typically used to diagnose auditory processing disorder (APD) in children. Our hypothesis is that correlations between white matter microstructure in tracts connecting the temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes, as well as callosal pathways, will be seen. Previous functional imaging studies have shown correlations between activation in temporal, frontal and parietal regions from higher-order auditory processing tasks. Additionally, we hypothesize that the regions displaying correlations will vary according to the task, as each task uses a different set of skills.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data was acquired in a cohort of 17 normal-hearing children ages 9-11. Fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of white matter fiber tract integrity and organization was computed and correlated on a voxelwise basis with performance on the auditory processing tasks, controlling for age, sex, and full-scale IQ.
Divergent correlations of white matter FA depending on the particular auditory processing task were found. Positive correlations were found between FA and speech-in-noise in white matter adjoining prefrontal areas, and between FA and filtered words in the corpus callosum. Regions exhibiting correlations with time-compressed sentences varied depending on the degree of compression: the greater degree of compression (with the greatest difficulty) resulted in correlations in white matter adjoining prefrontal (dorsal and ventral) while the smaller degree of compression (with less difficulty) resulted in correlations in white matter adjoining audio-visual association areas and the posterior cingulate. Only the time-compressed sentences with the lowest degree of compression resulted in positive correlations in the centrum semiovale; all the other tasks resulted in negative correlations.
The dependence of performance on higher-order auditory processing tasks on brain anatomical connectivity was seen in normal-hearing children ages 9-11. Results support a previously hypothesized dual-stream (dorsal and ventral) model of auditory processing, and that higher-order processing tasks rely less on the dorsal stream related to articulatory networks, and more on the ventral stream related to semantic comprehension. Results also show that the regions correlating with auditory processing vary according to the specific task, indicating that the neurological bases for the various tests used to diagnose APD in children may be partially independent.
Auditory Processing; Auditory Processing Disorder; Children; Diffusion Tensor Imaging
The corpus callosum is the largest white matter tract, important for interhemispheric communication. The aim of this study was to investigate and compare corpus callosum size, shape and diffusion characteristics in 106 very preterm infants and 22 full-term infants. Structural and diffusion magnetic resonance images were obtained at term equivalent. The corpus callosum was segmented, cross-sectional areas were calculated, and shape was analyzed. Fractional anisotropy, mean, axial and radial diffusivity measures were obtained from within the corpus callosum, with additional probabilistic tractography analysis. Very preterm infants had significantly reduced callosal cross sectional area compared with term infants (p=0.004), particularly for the mid-body and posterior sub-regions. Very preterm callosi were more circular (p=0.01). Fractional anisotropy was lower (p=0.007) and mean (p=0.006) and radial (p=0.001) diffusivity values were higher in very preterm infants’ callosi, particularly at the anterior and posterior ends. The volume of tracts originating from the corpus callosum was reduced in very preterm infants (p=0.001), particularly for anterior mid-body (p=0.01) and isthmus tracts (p=0.04). This study characterizes callosal size, shape and diffusion in typically developing infants at term equivalent age, and reports macro- and micro-structural abnormalities as a result of prematurity.
Brain; Corpus callosum; Prematurity; Neonate; Infant; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion tensor imaging
The corpus callosum (CC) is the major conduit for information transfer between the cerebral hemispheres and plays an integral role in relaying sensory, motor and cognitive information between homologous cortical regions. The majority of fibers that make up the CC arise from large pyramidal neurons in layers III and V, which project contra-laterally. These neurons degenerate in Huntington’s disease (HD) in a topographically and temporally selective way. Since any focus of cortical degeneration could be expected to secondarily de-afferent homologous regions of cortex, we hypothesized that regionally selective cortical degeneration would be reflected in regionally selective degeneration of the CC. We used conventional T1-weighted, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and a modified corpus callosum segmentation scheme to examine the CC in healthy controls, huntingtin gene-carriers and symptomatic HD subjects. We measured mid-sagittal callosal cross-sectional thickness and several DTI parameters, including fractional anisotropy (FA), which reflects the degree of white matter organization, radial diffusivity, a suggested index of myelin integrity, and axial diffusivity, a suggested index of axonal damage of the CC. We found a topologically selective pattern of alterations in these measures in pre-manifest subjects that were more extensive in early symptomatic HD subjects and that correlated with performance on distinct cognitive measures, suggesting an important role of for disrupted inter-hemispheric transfer in the clinical symptoms of HD. Our findings provide evidence for early degeneration of commissural pyramidal neurons in the neocortex, loss of cortico-cortical connectivity, and functional compromise of associative cortical processing.
In an effort to understand the role of interhemispheric transfer in numerical development, we investigated the relationship between children’s developing knowledge of numbers and the integrity of their white matter connections between the cerebral hemispheres (the corpus callosum). We used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography analyses to test the link between the development of the corpus callosum and performance on symbolic and non-symbolic numerical judgment tasks. We were especially interested in the interhemispheric connections of parietal cortex in 6-year-old children, because regions of parietal cortex have been implicated in the development of numerical skills by several prior studies. Our results revealed significant structural differences between children and adults in the fibers of the corpus callosum connecting the left and right parietal lobes. Importantly, these structural differences were predictive of individual differences among children in performance on numerical judgment tasks: children with poor numerical performance relative to their peers exhibited reduced white matter coherence in the fibers passing through the isthmus of the corpus callosum, which connects the parietal hemispheres.
Sexual dimorphism in human brain structure is well recognised, but less is known about gender differences in white matter microstructure. We used diffusion tensor imaging to explore gender differences in fractional anisotropy (FA), an index of microstructural integrity. We previously found increased FA in the corpus callosum in women, and increased FA in the cerebellum and left superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) in men, using a whole-brain voxel-based analysis.
A whole-brain tract-based spatial statistics analysis of 120 matched subjects from the previous analysis, and 134 new subjects (147 men and 107 women in total) using a 1.5T scanner, with division into tract-based regions of interest.
Men had higher FA in the superior cerebellar peduncles and women had higher FA in corpus callosum in both the first and second samples. The higher SLF FA in men was not found in either sample.
We confirmed our previous, controversial finding of increased FA in the corpus callosum in women, and increased cerebellar FA in men. The corpus callosum FA difference offers some explanation for the otherwise puzzling advantage in inter-callosal transfer time shown in women; the cerebellar FA difference may be associated with the developmental motor advantage shown in men.
The structural correlates of functional dysconnectivity in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been seldom explored, despite the fact that altered functional connectivity is one of the most frequent neuropathological observations in the disorder. We analyzed cerebral morphometry and structural connectivity using multi-modal imaging for 11 children/adolescents with ASD and 11 matched controls. We estimated regional cortical and white matter volumes, as well as vertex-wise measures of cortical thickness and local Gyrification Index (lGI). Diffusion Tensor Images (DTI) were used to measure Fractional Anisotropy (FA) and tractography estimates of short- and long-range connectivity. We observed four clusters of lGI reduction in patients with ASD, three were located in the right inferior frontal region extending to the inferior parietal lobe, and one was in the right medial parieto-occipital region. Reduced volume was found in the anterior corpus callosum, along with fewer inter-hemispheric frontal streamlines. Despite the spatial correspondence of decreased gyrification and reduced long connectivity, we did not observe any significant relationship between the two. However, a positive correlation between lGI and local connectivity was present in all four clusters in patients with ASD. Reduced gyrification in the inferior fronto-parietal and posterior medial cortical regions lends support for early-disrupted cortical growth in both the mirror neuron system and midline structures responsible for social cognition. Early impaired neurodevelopment in these regions may represent an initial substrate for altered maturation in the cerebral networks that support complex social skills. We also demonstrate that gyrification changes are related to connectivity. This supports the idea that an imbalance between short- and long-range white matter tracts not only impairs the integration of information from multiple neural systems, but also alters the shape of the brain early on in autism.
cortical folding; cerebral morphometry; tractography; neuroimaging; autism spectrum disorder
The integrity of white matter, as measured in vivo with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), is disrupted in normal aging. A current consensus is that in adults advancing age affects anterior brain regions disproportionately more than posterior regions; however, the mainstay of studies supporting this anterior-posterior gradient is based primarily on measures of the corpus callosum. Using our quantitative fiber tracking approach, we assessed fiber tract integrity of samples of major white matter cortical, subcortical, interhemispheric, and cerebellar systems (11 bilateral and 2 callosal) on DTI data collected at 1.5 T magnet strength. Participants were 55 men (age 20-78 years) and 65 women (age 28-81 years), deemed healthy and cognitively intact following interview and behavioral testing. Fiber integrity was measured as orientational diffusion coherence (fractional anisotropy, FA) and magnitude of diffusion, which was quantified separately for longitudinal diffusivity (λL), an index of axonal length or number, and transverse diffusivity (λT), an index of myelin integrity. Aging effects were more evident in diffusivity than FA measures. Men and women, examined separately, showed similar age-related increases in longitudinal and transverse diffusivity in fibers of the internal and external capsules bilaterally and the fornix. FA was lower and diffusivity higher in anterior than posterior fibers of regional paired comparisons (genu versus splenium and frontal versus occipital forceps). Diffusivity with older age was generally greater or FA lower in the superior than inferior fiber systems (longitudinal fasciculi, cingulate bundles), with little to no evidence for age-related degradation in pontine or cerebellar systems. The most striking sex difference emerged for the corpus callosum, for which men showed significant decline in FA and increase in longitudinal and transverse diffusivity in the genu but not splenium. By contrast, in women the age effect was present in both callosal regions, albeit modestly more so in the genu than splenium. Functional meaningfulness of these age-related differences was supported by significant correlations between DTI signs of white matter degradation and poorer performance on cognitive or motor tests. This survey of multiple fiber systems throughout the brain revealed a differential pattern of age’s effect on regional FA and diffusivity and suggests mechanisms of functional degradation, attributed at least in part to compromised fiber microstructure affecting myelin and axonal morphology.
Brain; Aging; DTI; White matter; Fiber tracking; Diffusion
Bimanual actions involve coordinated motion but often rely on the movements performed with each hand to be different. Older adults exhibit differentially greater variability for bimanual actions in which each hand has an independent movement goal. Such actions rely on interhemispheric communication via the corpus callosum, including both facilitatory and inhibitory interactions. Here, we investigated whether age differences in callosal structure and interhemispheric function contribute to this selective movement difficulty. Participants performed 3 force production tasks: 1) unimanual, 2) bimanual simultaneous, and 3) bimanual independent. Older adults had significantly greater interhemispheric facilitation during voluntary muscle activation. We also report a fundamental shift with age in the relationship between callosal tract microstructural integrity and interhemispheric inhibition (IHI). Specifically, older adults with relatively greater callosal tract microstructural integrity have less IHI. Furthermore, greater IHI was related to poorer bimanual performance (assessed by dominant hand force variability) in older adults on all tasks, whereas this relationship was only observed in young adults for the bimanual independent condition. These findings indicate changes in interhemispheric communication with advancing age such that older adults may rely on bilateral cortical cooperation to a greater extent than young adults for manual actions.
aging; bimanual; corpus callosum; diffusion tensor imaging; transcranial magnetic stimulation
The aim of this study was to relate altered corpus callosum (CC) integrity in 106 very preterm (VPT) infants (<30 weeks’ gestational age or <1250 g birth weight) at term equivalent to perinatal predictors and neurodevelopmental outcomes at two years. T1 and diffusion magnetic resonance images were obtained. The CC was traced, and divided into six sub-regions for cross-sectional area and shape analyses. Fractional anisotropy, mean, axial and radial diffusivity was sampled within the CC, and probabilistic tractography performed. Perinatal predictors were explored. The Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID-II) was administered at two years. Intraventricular hemorrhage was associated with a smaller genu and altered diffusion values within the anterior and posterior CC of VPT infants. White matter injury was associated with widespread alterations to callosal diffusion values, especially posteriorly, and radial diffusivity was particularly elevated, indicating altered myelination. Reduced CC tract volume related to lower gestational age, particularly posteriorly. Reduced posterior callosal skew was associated with postnatal corticosteroid exposure. This more circular CC was associated with delayed cognitive development. Higher diffusivity, particularly in splenium tracts, was associated with impaired motor development. This study elucidates perinatal predictors and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes associated with altered callosal integrity in VPT infants.
Brain; Prematurity; Neonate; Magnetic resonance imaging; Diffusion tensor imaging; Tractography
Several studies have now shown corpus callosum abnormalities using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in comparison with nonexposed controls. The data suggest that posterior regions of the callosum may be disproportionately affected. The current study builds on previous efforts, including our own work, and moves beyond midline corpus callosum to probe major inter-hemispheric white matter pathways with an improved DTI tractographic method. This study also expands on our prior work by evaluating a larger sample and by incorporating children with a broader range of clinical effects including full-criteria fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Participants included 33 children with FASD (8 FAS, 23 partial FAS, 2 static encephalopathy) and 19 nonexposed controls between the ages of 10 and 17 years. Participants underwent DTI scans and intelligence testing. Groups (FASD vs. controls) were compared on fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) in 6 white matter tracts projected through the corpus callosum. Exploratory analyses were also conducted examining the relationships between DTI measures in the corpus callosum and measures of intellectual functioning and facial dysmorphology.
In comparison with the control group, the FASD group had significantly lower FA in 3 posterior tracts of the corpus callosum: the posterior mid-body, the isthmus, and the splenium. A trend-level finding also suggested lower FA in the genu. Measures of white matter integrity and cognition were correlated and suggest some regional specificity, in that only posterior regions of the corpus callosum were associated with visual-perceptual skills. Correlations between measures of facial dysmorphology and posterior regions of the corpus callosum were nonsignificant.
Consistent with previous DTI studies, these results suggest that microstructural posterior corpus callosum abnormalities are present in children with prenatal alcohol exposure and cognitive impairment. These abnormalities are clinically relevant because they are associated with cognitive deficits and appear to provide evidence of abnormalities associated with prenatal alcohol exposure independent of dysmorphic features. As such, they may yield important diagnostic and prognostic information not provided by the traditional facial characteristics.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging; Brain; Fetal Alcohol (FAS, FASD)
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.
autism; connectivity; diffusion tensor imaging; social brain; white matter
The corpus callosum (CC) is the largest commissural white matter tract in mammalian brains, connecting homotopic and heterotopic regions of the cerebral cortex. Knowledge of the distribution of callosal fibers projecting into specific cortical regions has important implications for understanding the evolution of lateralized structures and functions of the cerebral cortex. No comparisons of CC topography in humans and great apes have yet been conducted. We investigated the topography of the CC in 21 chimpanzees using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Tractography was conducted based on fiber assignment by continuous tracking (FACT) algorithm. We expected chimpanzees to display topographical organization similar to humans, especially concerning projections into the frontal cortical regions. Similar to recent studies in humans, tractography identified five clusters of CC fibers projecting into defined cortical regions: prefrontal; premotor and supplementary motor; motor; sensory; parietal, temporal and occipital. Significant differences in fractional anisotropy (FA) were found in callosal regions, with highest FA values in regions projecting to higher-association areas of posterior cortical (including parietal, temporal and occipital cortices) and prefrontal cortical regions (p<0.001). The lowest FA values were seen in regions projecting into motor and sensory cortical areas. Our results indicate chimpanzees display similar topography of the CC as humans, in terms of distribution of callosal projections and microstructure of fibers as determined by anisotropy measures.