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Axon diameter mapping in crossing fibers with diffusion MRI.

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1
Microstructure Imaging Group, Department of Computer Science, University College London, London WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom.

Abstract

This paper proposes a technique for a previously unaddressed problem, namely, mapping axon diameter in crossing fiber regions, using diffusion MRI. Direct measurement of tissue microstructure of this kind using diffusion MRI offers a new class of biomarkers that give more specific information about tissue than measures derived from diffusion tensor imaging. Most existing techniques for axon diameter mapping assume a single axon orientation in the tissue model, which limits their application to only the most coherently oriented brain white matter, such as the corpus callosum, where the single orientation assumption is a reasonable one. However, fiber crossings and other complex configurations are widespread in the brain. In such areas, the existing techniques will fail to provide useful axon diameter indices for any of the individual fiber populations. We propose a novel crossing fiber tissue model to enable axon diameter mapping in voxels with crossing fibers. We show in simulation that the technique can provide robust axon diameter estimates in a two-fiber crossing with the crossing angle as small as 45 degrees. Using ex vivo imaging data, we further demonstrate the feasibility of the technique by establishing reasonable axon diameter indices in the crossing region at the interface of the cingulum and the corpus callosum.

PMID:
21995016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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