Exploring the Early Organization and Maturation of Linguistic Pathways in the Human Infant Brain

Linguistic processing is based on a close collaboration between temporal and frontal regions connected by two pathways: the “dorsal” and “ventral pathways” (assumed to support phonological and semantic processing, respectively, in adults). We investigated here the development of these pathways at the onset of language acquisition, during the first post-natal weeks, using cross-sectional diffusion imaging in 21 healthy infants (6–22 weeks of age) and 17 young adults. We compared the bundle organization and microstructure at these two ages using tractography and original clustering analyses of diffusion tensor imaging parameters. We observed structural similarities between both groups, especially concerning the dorsal/ventral pathway segregation and the arcuate fasciculus asymmetry. We further highlighted the developmental tempos of the linguistic bundles: The ventral pathway maturation was more advanced than the dorsal pathway maturation, but the latter catches up during the first post-natal months. Its fast development during this period might relate to the learning of speech cross-modal representations and to the first combinatorial analyses of the speech input.

Trade-off between angular and spatial resolutions in in vivo fiber tractography

Tractography is becoming an increasingly popular method to reconstruct white matter connections in vivo. The diffusion MRI data that tractography is based on requires a high angular resolution to resolve crossing fibers whereas high spatial resolution is required to distinguish kissing from crossing fibers. However, scan time increases with increasing spatial and angular resolutions, which can become infeasible in clinical settings. Here we investigated the trade-off between spatial and angular resolutions to determine which of these factors is most worth investing scan time in. We created a unique diffusion MRI dataset with 1.0 mm isotropic resolution and a high angular resolution (100 directions) using an advanced 3D diffusion-weighted multi-slab EPI acquisition. This dataset was reconstructed to create subsets of lower angular (75, 50, and 25 directions) and lower spatial (1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 mm) resolution. Using all subsets, we investigated the effects of angular and spatial resolutions in three fiber bundles—the corticospinal tract, arcuate fasciculus and corpus callosum—by analyzing the volumetric bundle overlap and anatomical correspondence between tracts. Our results indicate that the subsets of 25 and 50 directions provided inferior tract reconstructions compared with the datasets with 75 and 100 directions. Datasets with spatial resolutions of 1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mm were comparable, while the lowest resolution (2.5 mm) datasets had discernible inferior quality. In conclusion, we found that angular resolution appeared to be more influential than spatial resolution in improving tractography results. Spatial resolutions higher than 2.0 mm only appear to benefit multi-fiber tractography methods if this is not at the cost of decreased angular resolution.


Longitudinal assessment of white matter abnormalities following sports-related concussion

There is great interest in developing physiological-based biomarkers such as diffusion tensor imaging to aid in the management of concussion, which is currently entirely dependent on clinical judgment. However, the time course for recovery of white matter abnormalities following sports-related concussion (SRC) is unknown. We collected diffusion tensor imaging and behavioral data in forty concussed collegiate athletes on average 1.64 days (T1; n = 33), 8.33 days (T2; n = 30), and 32.15 days post-concussion (T3; n = 26), with healthy collegiate contact-sport athletes (HA) serving as controls (n = 46). We hypothesized that fractional anisotropy (FA) would be increased acutely and partially recovered by one month post-concussion. Mood symptoms were assessed using structured interviews. FA differences were assessed using both traditional and subject-specific analyses. An exploratory analysis of tau plasma levels was conducted in a subset of participants. Results indicated that mood symptoms improved over time post-concussion, but remained elevated at T3 relative to HA. Across both group and subject-specific analyses, concussed athletes exhibited increased FA in several white matter tracts at each visit post-concussion with no longitudinal evidence of recovery. Increased FA at T1 and T3 was significantly associated with an independent, real-world outcome measure for return-to-play. Finally, we observed a nonsignificant trend for reduced tau in plasma of concussed athletes at T1 relative to HA, with tau significantly increasing by T2. These results suggest white matter abnormalities following SRC may persist beyond one month and have potential as an objective biomarker for concussion outcome

Nice dipy paper: Aligning streamlines to streamline space outperforms image-based registration

In this paper, we introduce a novel, robust and efficient framework to align bundles of streamlines directly in the space of streamlines. We call this framework Streamline-based Linear Registration. We first show that this method can be used successfully to align individual bundles as well as whole brain streamlines. Additionally, if used as a piecewise linear registration across many bundles, we show that our novel method systematically provides higher overlap (Jaccard indices) than state-of-the-art nonlinear image-based registration in the white matter.

Diffusion tensor imaging of dolphin brains reveals direct auditory pathway to temporal lobe

Very cool: (postmortem) dolphin DTI.

Using thalamic parcellation based on traditionally defined regions for the primary visual (V1) and auditory cortex (A1), we found distinct regions of the thalamus connected to V1 and A1. But in addition to suprasylvian-A1, we report here, for the first time, the auditory cortex also exists in the temporal lobe, in a region near cetacean-A2 and possibly analogous to the primary auditory cortex in related terrestrial mammals (Artiodactyla). Using probabilistic tract tracing, we found a direct pathway from the inferior colliculus to the medial geniculate nucleus to the temporal lobe near the sylvian fissure.

Comparing tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) and manual labeling as diffusion analysis methods to detect white matter abnormalities

FA values from manual ROI and TBSS were strongly correlated (r = 0.94, P < 0.0001). Both methods found decreased FA in most ROIs for HIE infants. There was no significant interaction between method and group, indicating a similar ability to detect FA differences (F(1,19) = 0.599, P = 0.449). Sensitivity (manual: 0.709, TBSS: 0.694, 95% CI [–0.136, 0.163], P = 0.856), specificity (manual and TBSS: 0.716, 95% CI [–0.133, 0.133], P = 1), and standard error (manual: 0.009, TBSS: 0.007) were comparable.