Modeling white matter microstructure with fiber ball imaging

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Fiber ball imaging (FBI) provides a means of calculating the fiber orientation density function (fODF) in white matter from diffusion MRI (dMRI) data obtained over a spherical shell with a b-value of about 4000s/mm2 or higher. By supplementing this FBI-derived fODF with dMRI data acquired for two lower b-value shells, it is shown that several microstructural parameters may be estimated, including the axonal water fraction (AWF) and the intrinsic intra-axonal diffusivity. This fiber ball white matter (FBWM) modeling method is demonstrated for dMRI data acquired from healthy volunteers, and the results are compared with those of the white matter tract integrity (WMTI) method. Both the AWF and the intra-axonal diffusivity obtained with FBWM are found to be significantly larger than for WMTI, with the FBWM values for the intra-axonal diffusivity being more consistent with recent results obtained using isotropic diffusion weighting. An important practical advantage of FBWM is that the only nonlinear fitting required is the minimization of a cost function with just a single free parameter, which facilitates the implementation of efficient and robust numerical routines.

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