Diffusion tensor imaging tensor shape analysis for assessment of regional white matter differences

Dana M. Middleton, Jonathan Y. Li, Hui J. Lee, Steven Chen, Patricia I. Dickson, N. Matthew Ellinwood, Leonard E. White, James M. Provenzale

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2 Scopus citations


Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate a novel tensor shape plot analysis technique of diffusion tensor imaging data as a means to assess microstructural differences in brain tissue. We hypothesized that this technique could distinguish white matter regions with different microstructural compositions. Methods Three normal canines were euthanized at seven weeks old. Their brains were imaged using identical diffusion tensor imaging protocols on a 7T small-animal magnetic resonance imaging system. We examined two white matter regions, the internal capsule and the centrum semiovale, each subdivided into an anterior and posterior region. We placed 100 regions of interest in each of the four brain regions. Eigenvalues for each region of interest triangulated onto tensor shape plots as the weighted average of three shape metrics at the plot's vertices: CS, CL, and CP. Results The distribution of data on the plots for the internal capsule differed markedly from the centrum semiovale data, thus confirming our hypothesis. Furthermore, data for the internal capsule were distributed in a relatively tight cluster, possibly reflecting the compact and parallel nature of its fibers, while data for the centrum semiovale were more widely distributed, consistent with the less compact and often crossing pattern of its fibers. This indicates that the tensor shape plot technique can depict data in similar regions as being alike. Conclusion Tensor shape plots successfully depicted differences in tissue microstructure and reflected the microstructure of individual brain regions. This proof of principle study suggests that if our findings are reproduced in larger samples, including abnormal white matter states, the technique may be useful in assessment of white matter diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-329
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroradiology Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • barycentric plot
  • centrum semiovale
  • internal capsule
  • tensor shape

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    Middleton, D. M., Li, J. Y., Lee, H. J., Chen, S., Dickson, P. I., Ellinwood, N. M., White, L. E., & Provenzale, J. M. (2017). Diffusion tensor imaging tensor shape analysis for assessment of regional white matter differences. Neuroradiology Journal, 30(4), 324-329. https://doi.org/10.1177/1971400917709628