Color schemes to represent the orientation of anisotropic tissues from diffusion tensor data: application to white matter fiber tract mapping in the human brain

Magn Reson Med. 1999 Sep;42(3):526-40.


This paper investigates the use of color to represent the directional information contained in the diffusion tensor. Ideally, one wants to take into account both the properties of human color vision and of the given display hardware to produce a representation in which differences in the orientation of anisotropic structures are proportional to the perceived differences in color. It is argued here that such a goal cannot be achieved in general and therefore, empirical or heuristic schemes, which avoid some of the common artifacts of previously proposed approaches, are implemented. Directionally encoded color (DEC) maps of the human brain obtained using these schemes clearly show the main association, projection, and commissural white matter pathways. In the brainstem, motor and sensory pathways are easily identified and can be differentiated from the transverse pontine fibers and the cerebellar peduncles. DEC maps obtained from diffusion tensor imaging data provide a simple and effective way to visualize fiber direction, useful for investigating the structural anatomy of different organs. Magn Reson Med 42:526-540, 1999.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Color Perception
  • Color*
  • Diffusion
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Nerve Fibers / physiology