Reproducibility of superficial white matter tracts using diffusion-weighted imaging tractography

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Abstract

Human brain connection map is far from being complete. In particular the study of the superficial white matter (SWM) is an unachieved task. Its description is essential for the understanding of human brain function and the study of pathogenesis triggered by abnormal connectivity. In this work we automatically created a multi-subject atlas of SWM diffusion-based bundles of the whole brain. For each subject, the complete cortico-cortical tractogram is first split into sub-tractograms connecting pairs of gyri. Then intra-subject shape-based fiber clustering performs compression of each sub-tractogram into a set of bundles. Proceeding further with shape-based clustering provides a match of the bundles across subjects. Bundles found in most of the subjects are instantiated in the atlas. To increase robustness, this procedure was performed with two independent groups of subjects, in order to discard bundles without match across the two independent atlases. Finally, the resulting intersection atlas was projected on a third independent group of subjects in order to filter out bundles without reproducible and reliable projection. The final multi-subject diffusion-based U-fiber atlas is composed of 100 bundles in total, 50 per hemisphere, from which 35 are common to both hemispheres.

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