Quantitative evaluation of 10 tractography algorithms on a realistic diffusion MR phantom

Neuroimage. 2011 May 1;56(1):220-34. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.032. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


As it provides the only method for mapping white matter fibers in vivo, diffusion MRI tractography is gaining importance in clinical and neuroscience research. However, despite the increasing availability of different diffusion models and tractography algorithms, it remains unclear how to select the optimal fiber reconstruction method, given certain imaging parameters. Consequently, it is of utmost importance to have a quantitative comparison of these models and algorithms and a deeper understanding of the corresponding strengths and weaknesses. In this work, we use a common dataset with known ground truth and a reproducible methodology to quantitatively evaluate the performance of various diffusion models and tractography algorithms. To examine a wide range of methods, the dataset, but not the ground truth, was released to the public for evaluation in a contest, the "Fiber Cup". 10 fiber reconstruction methods were evaluated. The results provide evidence that: 1. For high SNR datasets, diffusion models such as (fiber) orientation distribution functions correctly model the underlying fiber distribution and can be used in conjunction with streamline tractography, and 2. For medium or low SNR datasets, a prior on the spatial smoothness of either the diffusion model or the fibers is recommended for correct modelling of the fiber distribution and proper tractography results. The phantom dataset, the ground truth fibers, the evaluation methodology and the results obtained so far will remain publicly available on: http://www.lnao.fr/spip.php?rubrique79 to serve as a comparison basis for existing or new tractography methods. New results can be submitted to fibercup09@gmail.com and updates will be published on the webpage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Phantoms, Imaging*