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J Vis. 2008 Dec 17;8(10):12.1-11. doi: 10.1167/8.10.12.

Identifying the human optic radiation using diffusion imaging and fiber tractography.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


Measuring the properties of the white matter pathways from retina to cortex in the living human brain will have many uses for understanding visual performance and guiding clinical treatment. For example, identifying the Meyer's loop portion of the optic radiation (OR) has clinical significance because of the large number of temporal lobe resections. We use diffusion tensor imaging and fiber tractography (DTI-FT) to identify the most likely pathway between the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) and the calcarine sulcus in sixteen hemispheres of eight healthy volunteers. Quantitative population comparisons between DTI-FT estimates and published postmortem dissections match with a spatial precision of about 1 mm. The OR can be divided into three bundles that are segmented based on the direction of the fibers as they leave the LGN: Meyer's loop, central, and direct. The longitudinal and radial diffusivities of the three bundles do not differ within the measurement noise; there is a small difference in the radial diffusivity between the right and left hemispheres. We find that the anterior tip of Meyer's loop is 28 +/- 3 mm posterior to the temporal pole, and the population range is 1 cm. Hence, it is important to identify the location of this bundle in individual subjects or patients.

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