Blog Archives

Diffusion tensor imaging of the hippocampus and verbal memory performance: The RUN DMC Study

Conclusion: Microstructural integrity of the hippocampus assessed by DTI is related to verbal memory performance in elderly with SVD, also in participants with an intact appearing hippocampus. Changes in hippocampal microstructure may be an early marker of underlying neurodegenerative disease, before macrostructural (i.e., volumetric) changes occur.

from Human Brain Mapping

Sensitive period for white-matter connectivity of superior temporal cortex in deaf people

Previous studies have shown that white matter in the deaf brain changes due to hearing loss. However, how white-matter development is influenced by early hearing experience of deaf people is still unknown. Using diffusion tensor imaging and tract-based spatial statistics, we compared white-matter structures among three groups of subjects including 60 congenitally deaf individuals, 36 acquired deaf (AD) individuals, and 38 sex- and age-matched hearing controls (HC). The result showed that the deaf individuals had significantly reduced fractional anisotropy (FA) values in bilateral superior temporal cortex and the splenium of corpus callosum compared to HC. The reduction of FA values in acquired deafness correlated with onset age of deafness, but not the duration of deafness. To explore the underlying mechanism of FA changes in the deaf groups, we further analyzed radial and axial diffusivities and found that (1) the reduced FA values in deaf individuals compared to HC is primarily driven by higher radial diffusivity values and (2) in the AD, higher radial diffusivity was correlated with earlier onset age of deafness, but not the duration of deafness. These findings imply that early sensory experience is critical for the growth of fiber myelination, and anatomical reorganization following auditory deprivation is sensitive to early plasticity in the brain.

from Human Brain Mapping

Diffusion tensor imaging in the study of language and aphasia

from Aphasiology

Conclusions: DTI is an emerging technology, increasingly being applied to further our understanding of aphasia and its recovery. So far it has contributed to our knowledge in four areas of research. In the area of brain anatomy it is used to redefine the borders between various parts of the cortex based on their structural connectivity, to acquire a more accurate map of the tracts connecting the various parts of the language system, and to measure hemispheric asymmetry. Future studies might be able to further our understanding of language anatomy and relate hemispheric asymmetry to recovery potential. Second, DTI can help in relating structure to function. So far many studies focused on repetition deficits and conduction aphasia. Future studies can explore the anatomy of other language deficits. Third, DTI has been used in the study of brain damage and recovery. Studies have documented the damage that occurs to white matter following stroke and other insults, and the spontaneous reorganisation that follows. In the future DTI might contribute to the debate about the role of the right hemisphere in recovery from aphasia. Lastly, in the area of aphasia rehabilitation there is great lack of data. The studies reviewed here have shown that rehabilitation potential is dependent on white matter integrity and that white matter changes can occur as a result of therapy. Future studies should further our understanding of the role of white matter integrity in recovery, therefore contributing to the question of why some patients show good recovery while others do not. Future studies should also try and map white matter changes that are associated with successful versus unsuccessful rehabilitation, and with different stages of recovery.

Differential language expertise related to white matter architecture in regions subserving sensory-motor coupling, articulation, and interhemispheric transfer

The technique of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has been used to investigate alterations in white matter architecture following long-term training and expertise. Professional simultaneous interpreters (SI) provide an ideal model for the investigation of training-induced plasticity due to the high demands placed on sound to motor mapping mechanisms, which are vital for executing fast interpretations. In line with our hypothesis, we found clusters with decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the SI group in brain regions previously shown to support sensory-motor coupling mechanisms and speech articulation (cluster extent family-wise error corrected, P < 0.01). Furthermore, we found an altered white matter architecture indicated by lower FA values in the SI group in the most anterior and posterior parts of the corpus callosum. Our results suggest that language expertise is accompanied by plastic adaptations in regions strongly involved in motor aspects of speech and in interhemispheric information transfer. These results have implications for our understanding of language expertise in relation to white matter adaptations. Hum Brain Mapp, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

from Human Brain Mapping

Neuroanatomical changes due to hearing loss and chronic tinnitus: A combined VBM and DTI study

Subjective tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an external source. Tinnitus is often accompanied by hearing loss but not everyone with hearing loss experiences tinnitus. We examined neuroanatomical alterations associated with hearing loss and tinnitus in three groups of subjects: those with hearing loss with tinnitus, those with hearing loss without tinnitus and normal hearing controls without tinnitus. To examine changes in gray matter we used structural MRI scans and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and to identify changes in white matter tract orientation we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). A major finding of our study was that there were both gray and white matter changes in the vicinity of the auditory cortex for subjects with hearing loss alone relative to those with tinnitus and those with normal hearing. We did not find significant changes in gray or white matter in subjects with tinnitus and hearing loss compared to normal hearing controls. VBM analysis revealed that individuals with hearing loss without tinnitus had gray matter decreases in anterior cingulate and superior and medial frontal gyri relative to those with hearing loss and tinnitus. Region-of-interest analysis revealed additional decreases in superior temporal gyrus for the hearing loss group compared to the tinnitus group. Investigating effects of hearing loss alone, we found gray matter decreases in superior and medial frontal gyri in participants with hearing loss compared to normal hearing controls. DTI analysis showed decreases in fractional anisotropy values in the right superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, corticospnial tract, inferior fronto-occipital tract, superior occipital fasciculus, and anterior thalamic radiation for the hearing loss group relative to normal hearing controls. In attempting to dissociate the effect of tinnitus from hearing loss, we observed that hearing loss rather than tinnitus had the greatest influence on gray and white matter alterations.

from Brain Research

The structural plasticity of white matter networks following anterior temporal lobe resection

Anterior temporal lobe resection is an effective treatment for refractory temporal lobe epilepsy. The structural consequences of such surgery in the white matter, and how these relate to language function after surgery remain unknown. We carried out a longitudinal study with diffusion tensor imaging in 26 left and 20 right temporal lobe epilepsy patients before and a mean of 4.5 months after anterior temporal lobe resection. The whole-brain analysis technique tract-based spatial statistics was used to compare pre- and postoperative data in the left and right temporal lobe epilepsy groups separately. We observed widespread, significant, mean 7%, decreases in fractional anisotropy in white matter networks connected to the area of resection, following both left and right temporal lobe resections. However, we also observed a widespread, mean 8%, increase in fractional anisotropy after left anterior temporal lobe resection in the ipsilateral external capsule and posterior limb of the internal capsule, and corona radiata. These findings were confirmed on analysis of the native clusters and hand drawn regions of interest. Postoperative tractography seeded from this area suggests that this cluster is part of the ventro-medial language network. The mean pre- and postoperative fractional anisotropy and parallel diffusivity in this cluster were significantly correlated with postoperative verbal fluency and naming test scores. In addition, the percentage change in parallel diffusivity in this cluster was correlated with the percentage change in verbal fluency after anterior temporal lobe resection, such that the bigger the increase in parallel diffusivity, the smaller the fall in language proficiency after surgery. We suggest that the findings of increased fractional anisotropy in this ventro-medial language network represent structural reorganization in response to the anterior temporal lobe resection, which may damage the more susceptible dorso-lateral language pathway. These findings have important implications for our understanding of brain injury and rehabilitation, and may also prove useful in the prediction and minimization of postoperative language deficits.

from Brain

Brain Imaging Findings in Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a brain-based disorder that has been intensively studied in the Western world for more than a century because of its social burden. However, affected individuals in Chinese communities are neither recognized nor formally diagnosed. Previous studies have concentrated on the disadvantages of reading deficits, and few have addressed non-linguistic skills, which are included in the symptoms. In addition, certain dyslexics possess visual spatial talents that have usually been ignored. In this review, we discuss the available information regarding brain imaging studies of dyslexia based on studies in Caucasian subjects. Gray matter deficits have been demonstrated in dyslexics using structural magnetic resonance imaging. Reduced neural activities in the left temporal and left parietal cortices, and diffuse widespread activation patterns in the cerebellum could be detected using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Changes in lactate levels, N-acetylaspartate/choline-containing compounds and N-acetylaspartate/creatine ratios, and phosphomonoester peak area were detected in magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies. Lower fractional aniso tropy values in bilateral white matter tracts have been demonstrated by diffusion tensor imaging. Abnormal Broca’s area activation was found using positron emission tomography imaging. Increased activities in the right frontal and temporal brain regions were detected using electroencephalography. Reduced hemispheric asymmetry and increased left inferior frontal activation were reported following magnetoencephalography. Although these imaging modalities are not currently diagnostic or prognostic, they are able to provide information on the causes of dyslexia beyond what was previously provided by behavioral or cognition studies.

from Pediatrics and Neonatology


White matter microstructural differences linked to left perisylvian language network in children with dyslexia

Studies of dyslexia using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) have reported fractional anisotropy (FA) differences in left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) and left temporo-parietal white matter, suggesting that impaired reading is associated with atypical white matter microstructure in these regions. These anomalies might reflect abnormalities in the left perisylvian language network, long implicated in dyslexia. While DTI investigations frequently report analyses on multiple tensor-derived measures (e.g., FA, orientation, tractography), it is uncommon to integrate analyses to examine the relationships between atypical findings. For the present study, semi-automated techniques were applied to DTI data in an integrated fashion to examine white matter microstructure in 14 children with dyslexia and 17 typically developing readers (ages 7–16 years). Correlations of DTI metrics (FA and fiber orientation) to reading skill (accuracy and speed) and to probabilistic tractography maps of the left perisylvian language tracts were examined. Consistent with previous reports, our findings suggest FA decreases in dyslexia in LIFG and left temporo-parietal white matter. The LIFG FA finding overlaps an area showing differences in fiber orientation in an anterior left perisylvian language pathway. Additionally, a positive correlation of FA to reading speed was found in a posterior circuit previously associated with activation on functional imaging during reading tasks. Overall, integrating results from several complementary semi-automated analyses reveals evidence linking atypical white matter microstructure in dyslexia to atypical fiber orientation in circuits implicated in reading including the left perisylvian language network.

from Cortex

Functional Relevance of Interindividual Differences in Temporal Lobe Callosal Pathways: A DTI Tractography Study

The midsagittal corpus callosum is topographically organized, that is, with regard to their cortical origin several subtracts can be distinguished within the corpus callosum that belong to specific functional brain networks. Recent diffusion tensor tractography studies have also revealed remarkable interindividual differences in the size and exact localization of these tracts. To examine the functional relevance of interindividual variability in callosal tracts, 17 right-handed male participants underwent structural and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. Probabilistic tractography was carried out to identify the callosal subregions that interconnect left and right temporal lobe auditory processing areas, and the midsagittal size of this tract was seen as indicator of the (anatomical) strength of this connection. Auditory information transfer was assessed applying an auditory speech perception task with dichotic presentations of consonant–vowel syllables (e.g., /ba-ga/). The frequency of correct left ear reports in this task served as a functional measure of interhemispheric transfer. Statistical analysis showed that a stronger anatomical connection between the superior temporal lobe areas supports a better information transfer. This specific structure–function association in the auditory modality supports the general notion that interindividual differences in callosal topography possess functional relevance.

from Cerebral Cortex

Lateralization of the arcuate fasciculus from childhood to adulthood and its relation to cognitive abilities in children

The arcuate fasciculus is a major white matter tract involved in language processing that has also been repeatedly implicated in intelligence and reasoning tasks. Language in the human brain is lateralized in terms of both function and structure, and while the arcuate fasciculus reflects this asymmetry, its pattern of lateralization is poorly understood in children and adolescents. We used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography to examine arcuate fasciculus lateralization in a large (n = 183) group of healthy right-handed volunteers aged 5-30 years; a subset of 68 children aged 5-13 years also underwent cognitive assessments. Fractional anisotropy and number of streamlines of the arcuate fasciculus were both significantly higher in the left hemisphere than the right hemisphere in most subjects, although some subjects (10%) were right lateralized. Age and gender effects on lateralization were not significant. Children receiving cognitive assessments were divided into three groups: a left-only group in whom only the left side of the arcuate fasciculus could be tracked, a left-lateralized group, and a right-lateralized group. Scores on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and NEPSY Phonological Processing task differed significantly among groups, with left-only subjects outperforming the right-lateralized group on the PPVT, and the left-lateralized children scoring significantly better than the right-lateralized group on phonological processing. In summary, DTI tractography demonstrates leftward arcuate fasciculus lateralization in children, adolescents, and young adults, and reveals a relationship between structural white matter lateralization and specific cognitive abilities in children. Hum Brain Mapp, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


from Human Brain Mapping

Response monitoring, repetitive behaviour and anterior cingulate abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

from Brain

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by inflexible and repetitive behaviour. Response monitoring involves evaluating the consequences of behaviour and making adjustments to optimize outcomes. Deficiencies in this function, and abnormalities in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) on which it relies, have been reported as contributing factors to autistic disorders. We investigated whether ACC structure and function during response monitoring were associated with repetitive behaviour in ASD. We compared ACC activation to correct and erroneous antisaccades using rapid presentation event-related functional MRI in 14 control and ten ASD participants. Because response monitoring is the product of coordinated activity in ACC networks, we also examined the microstructural integrity of the white matter (WM) underlying this brain region using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures of fractional anisotropy (FA) in 12 control and 12 adult ASD participants. ACC activation and FA were examined in relation to Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised ratings of restricted and repetitive behaviour. Relative to controls, ASD participants: (i) made more antisaccade errors and responded more quickly on correct trials; (ii) showed reduced discrimination between error and correct responses in rostral ACC (rACC), which was primarily due to (iii) abnormally increased activation on correct trials and (iv) showed reduced FA in WM underlying ACC. Finally, in ASD (v) increased activation on correct trials and reduced FA in rACC WM were related to higher ratings of repetitive behaviour. These findings demonstrate functional and structural abnormalities of the ACC in ASD that may contribute to repetitive behaviour. rACC activity following errors is thought to reflect affective appraisal of the error. Thus, the hyperactive rACC response to correct trials can be interpreted as a misleading affective signal that something is awry, which may trigger repetitive attempts at correction. Another possible consequence of reduced affective discrimination between error and correct responses is that it might interfere with the reinforcement of responses that optimize outcomes. Furthermore, dysconnection of the ACC, as suggested by reduced FA, to regions involved in behavioural control might impair on-line modulations of response speed to optimize performance (i.e. speed-accuracy trade-off) and increase error likelihood. These findings suggest that in ASD, structural and functional abnormalities of the ACC compromise response monitoring and thereby contribute to behaviour that is rigid and repetitive rather than flexible and responsive to contingencies. Illuminating the mechanisms and clinical significance of abnormal response monitoring in ASD represents a fruitful avenue for further research.