Neighborhood resolved fiber orientation distributions (NRFOD) in automatic labeling of white matter fiber pathways

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Abstract

Accurate digital representation of major white matter bundles in the brain is an important goal in neuroscience image computing since the representations can be used for surgical planning, intra-patient longitudinal analysis and inter-subject population connectivity studies. Reconstructing desired fiber bundles generally involves manual selection of regions of interest by an expert, which is subject to user bias and fatigue, hence an automation is desirable. To that end, we first present a novel anatomical representation based on Neighborhood Resolved Fiber Orientation Distributions (NRFOD) along the fibers. The resolved fiber orientations are obtained by generalized q-sampling imaging (GQI) and a subsequent diffusion decomposition method. A fiber-to-fiber distance measure between the proposed fiber representations is then used in a density-based clustering framework to select the clusters corresponding to the major pathways of interest. In addition, neuroanatomical priors are utilized to constrain the set of candidate fibers before density-based clustering. The proposed fiber clustering approach is exemplified on automation of the reconstruction of the major fiber pathways in the brainstem: corticospinal tract (CST); medial lemniscus (ML); middle cerebellar peduncle (MCP); inferior cerebellar peduncle (ICP); superior cerebellar peduncle (SCP). Experimental results on Human Connectome Project (HCP)’s publicly available “WU-Minn 500 Subjects + MEG2 dataset” and expert evaluations demonstrate the potential of the proposed fiber clustering method in brainstem white matter structure analysis.

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