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Neuroimage. 2008 Oct 1;42(4):1654-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

The relationship between diffusion tensor imaging and volumetry as measures of white matter properties.

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Center for the Study of Human Cognition, Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway.


There is still limited knowledge about the relationship between different structural brain parameters, despite huge progress in analysis of neuroimaging data. The aim of the present study was to test the relationship between fractional anisotropy (FA) from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and regional white matter (WM) volume. As WM volume has been shown to develop until middle age, the focus was on changes in WM properties in the age range of 40 to 60 years. 100 participants were scanned with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Each hemisphere was parcellated into 35 WM regions, and volume, FA, axial, and radial diffusion in each region were calculated. The relationships between age and the regional measures of FA and WM volume were tested, and then FA and WM volume were correlated, corrected for intracranial volume, age, and sex. WM volume was weakly related to age, while FA correlated negatively with age in 26 of 70 regions, caused by a mix of reduced axial and increased radial diffusion with age. 23 relationships between FA and WM volume were found, with seven being positive and sixteen negative. The positive correlations were mainly caused by increased radial diffusion. It is concluded that FA is more sensitive than volume to changes in WM integrity during middle age, and that FA-age correlations probably are related to reduced amount of myelin with increasing age. Further, FA and WM volume are moderately to weakly related and to a large extent sensitive to different characteristics of WM integrity.

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