Acquisition and voxelwise analysis of multi-subject diffusion data with tract-based spatial statistics

Nat Protoc. 2007;2(3):499-503. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2007.45.


There is much interest in using magnetic resonance diffusion imaging to provide information on anatomical connectivity in the brain by measuring the diffusion of water in white matter tracts. Among the measures, the most commonly derived from diffusion data is fractional anisotropy (FA), which quantifies local tract directionality and integrity. Many multi-subject imaging studies are using FA images to localize brain changes related to development, degeneration and disease. In a recent paper, we presented a new approach, tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), which aims to solve crucial issues of cross-subject data alignment, allowing localized cross-subject statistical analysis. This works by transforming the data from the centers of the tracts that are consistent across a study's subjects into a common space. In this protocol, we describe the MRI data acquisition and analysis protocols required for TBSS studies of localized change in brain connectivity across multiple subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diffusion
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Water