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NMR Biomed. 2019 Apr;32(4):e3762. doi: 10.1002/nbm.3762. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

The role of diffusion MRI in neuroscience.

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Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Department of Neurobiology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
FMRIB Centre, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, UK.
Brain Connectivity and Behaviour Group, Frontlab, Brain and Spine Institute, Paris, France.
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université Paris 06, Inserm, CNRS, Institut du cerveau et la moelle (ICM) - Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Boulevard de l'hôpital, Paris, France.
Centre de Neuroimagerie de Recherche CENIR, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.


Diffusion-weighted imaging has pushed the boundaries of neuroscience by allowing us to examine the white matter microstructure of the living human brain. By doing so, it has provided answers to fundamental neuroscientific questions, launching a new field of research that had been largely inaccessible. We briefly summarize key questions that have historically been raised in neuroscience concerning the brain's white matter. We then expand on the benefits of diffusion-weighted imaging and its contribution to the fields of brain anatomy, functional models and plasticity. In doing so, this review highlights the invaluable contribution of diffusion-weighted imaging in neuroscience, presents its limitations and proposes new challenges for future generations who may wish to exploit this powerful technology to gain novel insights.


anatomy; brain; connections; diffusion; models; plasticity; tractography; white matter

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