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1.  Targeting of White Matter Tracts With Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation 
Brain stimulation  2013;7(1):80-84.
TMS activations of white matter depend not only on the distance from the coil, but also on the orientation of the axons relative to the TMS-induced electric field, and especially on axonal bends that create strong local field gradient maxima. Therefore, tractography contains potentially useful information for TMS targeting.
Here, we utilized 1-mm resolution diffusion and structural T1-weighted MRI to construct large-scale tractography models, and localized TMS white matter activations in motor cortex using electromagnetic forward modeling in a boundary element model (BEM).
As expected, in sulcal walls, pyramidal cell axonal bends created preferred sites of activation that were not found in gyral crowns. The model agreed with the well-known coil orientation sensitivity of motor cortex, and also suggested unexpected activation distributions emerging from the E-field and tract configurations. We further propose a novel method for computing the optimal coil location and orientation to maximally stimulate a pre-determined axonal bundle.
Diffusion MRI tractography with electromagnetic modeling may improve spatial specificity and efficacy of TMS.
PMCID: PMC3938327  PMID: 24220599
Transcranial magnetic stimulation; TMS; Diffusion MRI tractography; Electromagnetic modeling; Navigation; Coil orientation
2.  The Human Connectome Project and Beyond: Initial Applications of 300 mT/m Gradients 
NeuroImage  2013;80:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.074.
The engineering of a 3T human MRI scanner equipped with 300 mT/m gradients – the strongest gradients ever built for an in vivo human MRI scanner – was a major component of the NIH Blueprint Human Connectome Project (HCP). This effort was motivated by the HCP’s goal of mapping, as completely as possible, the macroscopic structural connections of the in vivo healthy, adult human brain using diffusion tractography. Yet, the 300 mT/m gradient system is well suited to many additional types of diffusion measurements. Here, we present three initial applications of the 300mT/m gradients that fall outside the immediate scope of the HCP. These include: 1) diffusion tractography to study the anatomy of consciousness and the mechanisms of brain recovery following traumatic coma; 2) q-space measurements of axon diameter distributions in the in vivo human brain and 3) postmortem diffusion tractography as an adjunct to standard histopathological analysis. We show that the improved sensitivity and diffusion-resolution provided by the gradients is rapidly enabling human applications of techniques that were previously possible only for in vitro and animal models on small-bore scanners, thereby creating novel opportunities to map the microstructure of the human brain in health and disease.
PMCID: PMC3812060  PMID: 23711537
human connectome; diffusion MRI; tractography; traumatic coma; consciousness; axon diameter; corpus callosum; in vivo; postmortem
3.  Surface Based Analysis of Diffusion Orientation for Identifying Architectonic Domains in the In Vivo Human Cortex 
NeuroImage  2012;69:87-100.
Diffusion tensor MRI is sensitive to the coherent structure of brain tissue and is commonly used to study large-scale white matter structure. Diffusion in grey matter is more isotropic, however, several groups have observed coherent patterns of diffusion anisotropy within the cerebral cortical grey matter. We extend the study of cortical diffusion anisotropy by relating it to the local coordinate system of the folded cerebral cortex. We use 1mm and sub-millimeter isotropic resolution diffusion imaging to perform a laminar analysis of the principal diffusion orientation, fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity and partial volume effects. Data from 6 in vivo human subjects, a fixed human brain specimen and an anesthetized macaque were examined. Large regions of cortex show a radial diffusion orientation. In vivo human and macaque data displayed a sharp transition from radial to tangential diffusion orientation at the border between primary motor and somatosensory cortex, and some evidence of tangential diffusion in secondary somatosensory cortex and primary auditory cortex. Ex vivo diffusion imaging in a human tissue sample showed some tangential diffusion orientation in S1 but mostly radial diffusion orientations in both M1 and S1.
PMCID: PMC3557597  PMID: 23247190
cerebral cortex; diffusion tensor imaging; laminar analysis; human; brain
4.  Size-optimized 32-Channel Brain Arrays for 3 T Pediatric Imaging 
Magnetic Resonance in Medicine  2011;66(6):1777-1787.
Size-optimized 32-channel receive array coils were developed for five age groups, neonates, 6 months old, 1 year old, 4 years old, and 7 years old, and evaluated for pediatric brain imaging. The array consisted of overlapping circular surface coils laid out on a close-fitting coil-former. The two-section coil former design was obtained from surface contours of aligned three-dimensional MRI scans of each age group. Signal-to-noise ratio and noise amplification for parallel imaging were evaluated and compared to two coils routinely used for pediatric brain imaging; a commercially available 32-channel adult head coil and a pediatric-sized birdcage coil. Phantom measurements using the neonate, 6-month-old, 1-year-old, 4-year-old, and 7-year-old coils showed signal-to-noise ratio increases at all locations within the brain over the comparison coils. Within the brain cortex the five dedicated pediatric arrays increased signal-to-noise ratio by up to 3.6-, 3.0-, 2.6-, 2.3-, and 1.7-fold, respectively, compared to the 32-channel adult coil, as well as improved G-factor maps for accelerated imaging. This study suggests that a size-tailored approach can provide significant sensitivity gains for accelerated and unaccelerated pediatric brain imaging.
PMCID: PMC3218247  PMID: 21656548
magnetic resonance imaging; phased-array coil; pediatric imaging; parallel imaging
5.  A combined post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging and quantitative histological study of multiple sclerosis pathology 
Brain  2012;135(10):2938-2951.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory neurological condition characterized by focal and diffuse neurodegeneration and demyelination throughout the central nervous system. Factors influencing the progression of pathology are poorly understood. One hypothesis is that anatomical connectivity influences the spread of neurodegeneration. This predicts that measures of neurodegeneration will correlate most strongly between interconnected structures. However, such patterns have been difficult to quantify through post-mortem neuropathology or in vivo scanning alone. In this study, we used the complementary approaches of whole brain post-mortem magnetic resonance imaging and quantitative histology to assess patterns of multiple sclerosis pathology. Two thalamo-cortical projection systems were considered based on their distinct neuroanatomy and their documented involvement in multiple sclerosis: lateral geniculate nucleus to primary visual cortex and mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus to prefrontal cortex. Within the anatomically distinct thalamo-cortical projection systems, magnetic resonance imaging derived cortical thickness was correlated significantly with both a measure of myelination in the connected tract and a measure of connected thalamic nucleus cell density. Such correlations did not exist between these markers of neurodegeneration across different thalamo-cortical systems. Magnetic resonance imaging lesion analysis depicted clearly demarcated subcortical lesions impinging on the white matter tracts of interest; however, quantitation of the extent of lesion-tract overlap failed to demonstrate any appreciable association with the severity of markers of diffuse pathology within each thalamo-cortical projection system. Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging metrics in both white matter tracts were correlated significantly with a histologically derived measure of tract myelination. These data demonstrate for the first time the relevance of functional anatomical connectivity to the spread of multiple sclerosis pathology in a ‘tract-specific’ pattern. Furthermore, the persisting relationship between metrics from post-mortem diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and histological measures from fixed tissue further validates the potential of imaging for future neuropathological studies.
PMCID: PMC3470716  PMID: 23065787
multiple sclerosis; post-mortem imaging; diffusion imaging; white matter tracts; neurodegeneration
6.  Diffusion tractography of post-mortem human brains: Optimization and comparison of spin echo and steady-state free precession techniques 
Neuroimage  2012;59(3-2):2284-2297.
Diffusion imaging of post-mortem brains could provide valuable data for validation of diffusion tractography of white matter pathways. Long scans (e.g., overnight) may also enable high-resolution diffusion images for visualization of fine structures. However, alterations to post-mortem tissue (T2 and diffusion coefficient) present significant challenges to diffusion imaging with conventional diffusion-weighted spin echo (DW-SE) acquisitions, particularly for imaging human brains on clinical scanners. Diffusion-weighted steady-state free precession (DW-SSFP) has been proposed as an alternative acquisition technique to ameliorate this tradeoff in large-bore clinical scanners. In this study, both DWSE and DW-SSFP are optimized for use in fixed white matter on a clinical 3-Tesla scanner. Signal calculations predict superior performance from DW-SSFP across a broad range of protocols and conditions. DW-SE and DW-SSFP data in a whole, post-mortem human brain are compared for 6- and 12-hour scan durations. Tractography is performed in major projection, commissural and association tracts (corticospinal tract, corpus callosum, superior longitudinal fasciculus and cingulum bundle). The results demonstrate superior tract-tracing from DW-SSFP data, with 6-hour DW-SSFP data performing as well as or better than 12-hour DW-SE scans. These results suggest that DW-SSFP may be a preferred method for diffusion imaging of post-mortem human brains. The ability to estimate multiple fibers in imaging voxels is also demonstrated, again with greater success in DW-SSFP data.
► Comparison of DW-SE and DW-SSFP for post-mortem imaging on clinical scanners. ► Optimization of protocols predicts 50-130% higher SNR efficiency in DW-SSFP. ► Comparison of tractography 6- and 12-hour DW-SE and DW-SSFP scans. ► Lower uncertainty on fibre direction in DW-SSFP produces superior tractography. ► Crossing fibres can be estimated from 12-hour DW-SSFP data.
PMCID: PMC3314951  PMID: 22008372
Diffusion; Tractography; Post mortem; Steady-state free precession; DTI
7.  Diffusion imaging of whole, post-mortem human brains on a clinical MRI scanner 
Neuroimage  2011;57(1-4):167-181.
Diffusion imaging of post mortem brains has great potential both as a reference for brain specimens that undergo sectioning, and as a link between in vivo diffusion studies and “gold standard” histology/dissection. While there is a relatively mature literature on post mortem diffusion imaging of animals, human brains have proven more challenging due to their incompatibility with high-performance scanners. This study presents a method for post mortem diffusion imaging of whole, human brains using a clinical 3-Tesla scanner with a 3D segmented EPI spin-echo sequence. Results in eleven brains at 0.94 × 0.94 × 0.94 mm resolution are presented, and in a single brain at 0.73 × 0.73 × 0.73 mm resolution. Region-of-interest analysis of diffusion tensor parameters indicate that these properties are altered compared to in vivo (reduced diffusivity and anisotropy), with significant dependence on post mortem interval (time from death to fixation). Despite these alterations, diffusion tractography of several major tracts is successfully demonstrated at both resolutions. We also report novel findings of cortical anisotropy and partial volume effects.
Research highlights
► Acquisition and processing protocols for diffusion MRI of post-mortem human brains. ► Effect of post-mortem and scan intervals on diffusion indices. ► Tractography in post-mortem human brains. ► Radial diffusion anisotropy in cortical gray matter.
PMCID: PMC3115068  PMID: 21473920
Diffusion tensor imaging; Tractography; Post mortem; Human; Brain

Results 1-7 (7)