Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) studies are increasingly popular among clinicians and researchers as they provide unique insights into brain network connectivity. However, in order to optimize the use of DTI, several technical and methodological aspects must be factored in. These include decisions on: acquisition protocol, artifact handling, data quality control, reconstruction algorithm, and visualization approaches, and quantitative analysis methodology. Furthermore, the researcher and/or clinician also needs to take into account and decide on the most suited software tool(s) for each stage of the DTI analysis pipeline. Herein, we provide a straightforward hitchhiker’s guide, covering all of the workflow’s major stages. Ultimately, this guide will help newcomers navigate the most critical roadblocks in the analysis and further encourage the use of DTI.
Hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania, HPD) is a disabling condition that is characterized by repetitive hair-pulling resulting in hair loss. Although there is evidence of structural grey matter abnormalities in HPD, there is a paucity of data on white matter integrity. The aim of this study was to explore white matter integrity using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in subjects with HPD and healthy controls. Sixteen adult female subjects with HPD and 13 healthy female controls underwent DTI. Hair-pulling symptom severity, anxiety and depressive symptoms were also assessed. Tract-based spatial statistics were used to analyze data on fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity (RD). There were no differences in DTI measures between HPD subjects and healthy controls. However, there were significant associations of increased MD in white matter tracts of the fronto-striatal-thalamic pathway with longer HPD duration and increased HPD severity. Our findings suggest that white matter integrity in fronto-striatal-thalamic pathways in HPD is related to symptom duration and severity. The molecular basis of measures of white matter integrity in HPD deserves further exploration.
Diffusion Kurtosis Imaging (DKI) is a diffusion-weighted technique which overcomes limitations of the commonly used diffusion tensor imaging approach. This technique models non-Gaussian behaviour of water diffusion by the diffusion kurtosis tensor (KT), which can be used to provide indices of tissue heterogeneity and a better characterisation of the spatial architecture of tissue microstructure. In this study, the geometry of the KT is elucidated using synthetic data generated from multi-compartmental models, where diffusion heterogeneity between intra and extra-cellular media are taken into account, as well as the sensitivity of the results to each model parameter and to synthetic noise. Furthermore, based on the assumption that maxima of the KT are distributed perpendicularly to the direction of well aligned fibres, a novel algorithm for estimating fibre direction directly from the KT is proposed and compared to the fibre directions extracted from DKI based orientation distribution function (ODF) estimates previously proposed in the literature. Synthetic data results showed that, for fibres crossing at high intersection angles, direction estimates extracted directly from the KT have smaller errors than the DKI based ODF estimation approaches (DKI-ODF). Nevertheless, the proposed method showed smaller angular resolution and lower stability to changes of the simulation parameters. On real data, tractography performed on these KT fibre estimates suggests a higher sensitivity than the DKI based ODF in resolving lateral corpus callosum fibres reaching the pre-central cortex when diffusion acquisition is performed with five b-values. Using faster acquisition schemes, KT based tractography did not show improved performance over the DKI-ODF procedures. Nevertheless, it is shown that direct KT fibres estimates are more adequate for computing a generalized version of radial kurtosis maps.
The use of cannabis with higher ��9-tetrahydrocannabinol content has been associated with greater risk, and earlier onset, of psychosis. However, the effect of cannabis potency on brain morphology has never been explored. Here, we investigated whether cannabis potency and pattern of use are associated with changes in corpus callosum (CC) microstructural organization, in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and individuals without psychosis, cannabis users and non-users. Method The CC of 56 FEP (37 cannabis users) and 43 individuals without psychosis (22 cannabis users) was virtually dissected and segmented using diffusion tensor imaging tractography. The diffusion index of fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity was calculated for each segment.
Human brain maturation is characterized by the prolonged development of structural and functional properties of large-scale networks that extends into adulthood. However, it is not clearly understood which features change and which remain stable over time. Here, we examined structural connectivity based on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in 121 participants between 4 and 40 years of age. DTI data were analyzed for small-world parameters, modularity, and the number of fiber tracts at the level of streamlines. First, our findings showed that the number of fiber tracts, small-world topology, and modular organization remained largely stable despite a substantial overall decrease in the number of streamlines with age. Second, this decrease mainly affected fiber tracts that had a large number of streamlines, were short, within modules and within hemispheres; such connections were affected significantly more often than would be expected given their number of occurrences in the network. Third, streamline loss occurred earlier in females than in males. In summary, our findings suggest that core properties of structural brain connectivity, such as the small-world and modular organization, remain stable during brain maturation by focusing streamline loss to specific types of fiber tracts.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has allowed in vivo demonstration of axonal architecture and connectivity. This technique has set the stage for numerous studies on normal and abnormal connectivity and their role in developmental and acquired disorders. Referencing established white matter anatomy, DTI atlases, and neuroanatomical descriptions, this article summarizes the major white matter anatomy and related structures relevant to the clinical neuroradiologist in daily practice.
Most data on the architecture of the human soleus muscle have been obtained from cadaveric dissection or two-dimensional ultrasound imaging. We present the first comprehensive, quantitative study on the three-dimensional anatomy of the human soleus muscle in vivo using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) techniques.
Sleep and wakefulness are crucial prerequisites for cognitive efficiency, the disturbances of which severely impact performance and mood as present e.g. after time zone traveling, in shift workers or patients with sleep or affective disorders. Based on their individual disposition to sleep and wakefulness, humans can be categorized as early (EC), late (LC) or intermediate (IC) chronotypes. While ECs tend to wake up early in the morning and find it difficult to remain awake beyond their usual bedtime, LCs go to bed late and have difficulties getting up. Beyond sleep/wake timings, chronotypes show distinct patterns of cognitive performance, gene expression, endocrinology and lifestyle. However, little is known about brain structural characteristics potentially underlying differences. Specifically, white matter (WM) integrity is crucial for intact brain function and has been related to various lifestyle habits, suggesting differences between chronotypes. Hence, the present study draws on Diffusion Tensor Imaging as a powerful tool to non-invasively probe WM architecture in 16 ECs, 23 LCs and 20 ICs. Track-based spatial statistics highlight that LCs were characterized by WM differences in the frontal and temporal lobes, cingulate gyrus and corpus callosum. Results are discussed in terms of findings reporting late chronotypes to exhibit a chronic form of jet lag accompanied with sleep disturbances, vulnerability to depression and higher consumption of nicotine and alcohol. This study has far-reaching implications for health and the economy. Ideally, work schedules should fit in with chronotype-specificity whenever possible.
Recent research has documented structural brain abnormalities in various criminal offenders. However, there have been few brain imaging studies of sex offenders, and none on white matter integrity. The current study tested the hypothesis that rapists, when compared to matched controls, would show abnormal cortical and subcortical white matter integrity.
Mild traumatic brain injury results in a heterogeneous constellation of deficits and symptoms that persist in a subset of patients. This prospective longitudinal study identifies early diffusion tensor imaging biomarkers of mild traumatic brain injury that significantly relate to outcomes at 1 year following injury.