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J Neurosci Methods. 2012 Apr 30;206(1):40-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2012.02.004. Epub 2012 Feb 11.

Fisher statistics for analysis of diffusion tensor directional information.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Wisconsin, UW Medical Foundation Centennial Building, Madison, WI 53705, USA.


A statistical approach is presented for the quantitative analysis of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) directional information using Fisher statistics, which were originally developed for the analysis of vectors in the field of paleomagnetism. In this framework, descriptive and inferential statistics have been formulated based on the Fisher probability density function, a spherical analogue of the normal distribution. The Fisher approach was evaluated for investigation of rat brain DTI maps to characterize tissue orientation in the corpus callosum, fornix, and hilus of the dorsal hippocampal dentate gyrus, and to compare directional properties in these regions following status epilepticus (SE) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) with values in healthy brains. Direction vectors were determined for each region of interest (ROI) for each brain sample and Fisher statistics were applied to calculate the mean direction vector and variance parameters in the corpus callosum, fornix, and dentate gyrus of normal rats and rats that experienced TBI or SE. Hypothesis testing was performed by calculation of Watson's F-statistic and associated p-value giving the likelihood that grouped observations were from the same directional distribution. In the fornix and midline corpus callosum, no directional differences were detected between groups, however in the hilus, significant (p<0.0005) differences were found that robustly confirmed observations that were suggested by visual inspection of directionally encoded color DTI maps. The Fisher approach is a potentially useful analysis tool that may extend the current capabilities of DTI investigation by providing a means of statistical comparison of tissue structural orientation.

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