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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Nov 21;7:794. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00794. eCollection 2013.

BrainCAT - a tool for automated and combined functional magnetic resonance imaging and diffusion tensor imaging brain connectivity analysis.

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Life and Health Sciences Research Institute, School of Health Sciences, University of Minho Braga, Portugal ; ICVS/3B's - PT Government Associate Laboratory Braga/GuimarĂ£es, Portugal.


Multimodal neuroimaging studies have recently become a trend in the neuroimaging field and are certainly a standard for the future. Brain connectivity studies combining functional activation patterns using resting-state or task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography have growing popularity. However, there is a scarcity of solutions to perform optimized, intuitive, and consistent multimodal fMRI/DTI studies. Here we propose a new tool, brain connectivity analysis tool (BrainCAT), for an automated and standard multimodal analysis of combined fMRI/DTI data, using freely available tools. With a friendly graphical user interface, BrainCAT aims to make data processing easier and faster, implementing a fully automated data processing pipeline and minimizing the need for user intervention, which hopefully will expand the use of combined fMRI/DTI studies. Its validity was tested in an aging study of the default mode network (DMN) white matter connectivity. The results evidenced the cingulum bundle as the structural connector of the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex and the medial frontal cortex, regions of the DMN. Moreover, mean fractional anisotropy (FA) values along the cingulum extracted with BrainCAT showed a strong correlation with FA values from the manual selection of the same bundle. Taken together, these results provide evidence that BrainCAT is suitable for these analyses.


DTI; automated pipeline; brainCAT; connectivity; fMRI; independent component analysis; multimodal neuroimaging; tractography

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