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Curr Opin Neurol. 2009 Aug;22(4):362-9. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0b013e32832d954b.

White matter atlases based on diffusion tensor imaging.

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  • 1Division of NMR Research, The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.



Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has a unique capability to delineate axonal tracts within the white matter, which has not been possible with previous noninvasive imaging techniques. In the past 10 years, we have witnessed a large increase in the use of DTI-based studies and a score of new anatomical knowledge and image analysis tools have been introduced in recent years. This review will provide an overview of the recent advancements in DTI-based studies and new image analysis tools.


DTI provided new dimensions for the characterization of white matter anatomy. This characterization of the white matter can be roughly divided into two categories. First, the white matter can be parcellated into constituent white matter tracts, based on pixel-by-pixel orientation and anisotropy information. Second, the DTI information can be extrapolated to obtain three-dimensional connectivity information. Based on these capabilities of DTI, many new image analysis tools are being developed to investigate the status of the white matter.


In the past, the white matter has often been treated as one compartment. With DTI and recently developed analysis tools, we can investigate the status of intra-white matter structures and deepen our understanding of white matter structures and their abnormalities under pathological conditions.

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