Diffusion MRI tractography is essential for reconstructing white-matter projections in the living human brain. Yet tractography results miss some projections and falsely identify others. A challenging example is the optic radiation (OR) that connects the thalamus and the primary visual cortex. Here, we tested whether OR tractography can be optimized using quantitative T1 mapping. Based on histology, we proposed that myelin-sensitive T1 values along the OR should remain consistently low compared with adjacent white matter. We found that complementary information from the T1 map allows for increasing the specificity of the reconstructed OR tract by eliminating falsely identified projections. This T1-filtering outperforms other, diffusion-based tractography filters.
These results provide evidence that the smooth microstructural signature along the tract can be used as constructive input for tractography. Finally, we demonstrate that this approach can be applied in a case of multiple sclerosis, and generalized to the HCP-available MRI measurements. We conclude that multimodal MRI microstructural information can be used to eliminate spurious tractography results in the case of the OR.