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Proc SPIE Int Soc Opt Eng. 2018 Feb;10574. pii: 1057411. doi: 10.1117/12.2293028. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Strain Map of the Tongue in Normal and ALS Speech Patterns from Tagged and Diffusion MRI.

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Gordon Center for Medical Imaging, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, US 02114.
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, US 21218.
Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore, MD, US 21201.
Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, US 02114.
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, US 02114.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a neurological disease that causes death of neurons controlling muscle movements. Loss of speech and swallowing functions is a major impact due to degeneration of the tongue muscles. In speech studies using magnetic resonance (MR) techniques, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is used to capture internal tongue muscle fiber structures in three-dimensions (3D) in a non-invasive manner. Tagged magnetic resonance images (tMRI) are used to record tongue motion during speech. In this work, we aim to combine information obtained with both MR imaging techniques to compare the functionality characteristics of the tongue between normal and ALS subjects. We first extracted 3D motion of the tongue using tMRI from fourteen normal subjects in speech. The estimated motion sequences were then warped using diffeomorphic registration into the b0 spaces of the DTI data of two normal subjects and an ALS patient. We then constructed motion atlases by averaging all warped motion fields in each b0 space, and computed strain in the line of action along the muscle fiber directions provided by tractography. Strain in line with the fiber directions provides a quantitative map of the potential active region of the tongue during speech. Comparison between normal and ALS subjects explores the changing volume of compressing tongue tissues in speech facing the situation of muscle degradation. The proposed framework provides for the first time a dynamic map of contracting fibers in ALS speech patterns, and has the potential to provide more insight into the detrimental effects of ALS on speech.


ALS; DTI; Tongue; atlas; dynamic MRI; motion; speech function; tractography

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