Development of a human brain diffusion tensor template

Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):967-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.03.046. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


The development of a brain template for diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is crucial for comparisons of neuronal structural integrity and brain connectivity across populations, as well as for the development of a white matter atlas. Previous efforts to produce a DTI brain template have been compromised by factors related to image quality, the effectiveness of the image registration approach, the appropriateness of subject inclusion criteria, and the completeness and accuracy of the information summarized in the final template. The purpose of this work was to develop a DTI human brain template using techniques that address the shortcomings of previous efforts. Therefore, data containing minimal artifacts were first obtained on 67 healthy human subjects selected from an age-group with relatively similar diffusion characteristics (20-40 years of age), using an appropriate DTI acquisition protocol. Non-linear image registration based on mean diffusion-weighted and fractional anisotropy images was employed. DTI brain templates containing median and mean tensors were produced in ICBM-152 space and made publicly available. The resulting set of DTI templates is characterized by higher image sharpness, provides the ability to distinguish smaller white matter fiber structures, contains fewer image artifacts, than previously developed templates, and to our knowledge, is one of only two templates produced based on a relatively large number of subjects. Furthermore, median tensors were shown to better preserve the diffusion characteristics at the group level than mean tensors. Finally, white matter fiber tractography was applied on the template and several fiber-bundles were traced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Radiography