White Matter Tractography (DTI)

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) or white matter tractography is shown in the corticospinal tract on a subect acquired on the 3.0 Tesla MRI scanner. Diffusion tensor imaging is unique in its ability to noninvasively visualize white matter fiber tracts in the human brain in vivo. Diffusion is the incoherent motion of water molecules on a microscopic scale. This motion is itself dependent on the micro-structural environment that restricts the movement of the water molecules. In white matter fibers there is a pronounced directional dependence on diffusion. With white matter fiber tracking or tractography, projections among brain regions can be detected in the three-dimensional diffusion tensor dataset according to the directionality of the fibers. Examples of developmental changes in diffusion, tracking of major fiber tracts, and examples of how diffusion tensor tractography and functional magnetic resonance imaging can be combined are provided. These techniques are complimentary and allow both the identification of the eloquent areas of the brain involved in specific functional tasks, and the connections between them. The noninvasive nature of magnetic resonance imaging will allow these techniques to be used in both longitudinal developmental and diagnostic studies.