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Neuroimage. 2007 May 1;35(4):1459-72. Epub 2007 Feb 21.

Robust determination of the fibre orientation distribution in diffusion MRI: non-negativity constrained super-resolved spherical deconvolution.

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1
Brain Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia. d.tournier@brain.org.au

Abstract

Diffusion-weighted (DW) MR images contain information about the orientation of brain white matter fibres that potentially can be used to study human brain connectivity in vivo using tractography techniques. Currently, the diffusion tensor model is widely used to extract fibre directions from DW-MRI data, but fails in regions containing multiple fibre orientations. The spherical deconvolution technique has recently been proposed to address this limitation. It provides an estimate of the fibre orientation distribution (FOD) by assuming the DW signal measured from any fibre bundle is adequately described by a single response function. However, the deconvolution is ill-conditioned and susceptible to noise contamination. This tends to introduce artefactual negative regions in the FOD, which are clearly physically impossible. In this study, the introduction of a constraint on such negative regions is proposed to improve the conditioning of the spherical deconvolution. This approach is shown to provide FOD estimates that are robust to noise whilst preserving angular resolution. The approach also permits the use of super-resolution, whereby more FOD parameters are estimated than were actually measured, improving the angular resolution of the results. The method provides much better defined fibre orientation estimates, and allows orientations to be resolved that are separated by smaller angles than previously possible. This should allow tractography algorithms to be designed that are able to track reliably through crossing fibre regions.

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