Quantitative white matter analysis by diffusion tensor imaging and potential functional correlation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is an MRI modality used to measure the thermal motion of water molecules by combining the measured water diffusion with a simple tensor model of a 3 x 3 symmetric matrix. Since there are many structures that restrict the free motion of water molecules in the brain, we can use the diffusion property of water to study the brain anatomy. Because DTI can provide directional information about axonal fiber bundles, this technique may be one of the most effective MR tools for the investigation of the human white matter anatomy in vivo. Along with the qualitative analysis of fiber pathways using tractography, the quantitative analysis using DTI enables researchers to investigate relationships between white matter anatomy and brain functions as well as to identify tract-specific developmental patterns or disease-specific alterations of the fiber tracts. Several methods have been proposed for whole-brain DTI analysis without an a priori hypothesis. Voxel-based analysis (VBA) is one of the most widely used approaches, although it has concerning limitations, especially when isotropic spatial smoothing is applied. Alternative methods such as tract-based spatial statistics and atlas-based analysis have been introduced to overcome the limitations of VBA. Future studies combining the anatomical connectivity illustrated by using DTI and the functional connectivity illustrated by using resting-state fMRI will provide an emerging landscape of human brain connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1329
Number of pages11
JournalBrain and Nerve
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011


  • Atlas-based analysis
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Functional correlation
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Tractography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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