Conventional diffusion MRI methods are mostly capable of portraying microarchitectural elements such as fiber orientation in white matter from detection of diffusion anisotropy, which arises from the coherent organization of anisotropic compartments. Double-pulsed-field-gradient MR methods provide a means for obtaining microstructural information such as compartment shape and microscopic anisotropies even in scenarios where macroscopic organization is absent. Here, we apply angular double-pulsed-gradient-spin-echo MRI in the rat brain both ex vivo and in vivo for the first time. Robust angular dependencies are detected in the brain at long mixing time (t(m) ). In many pixels, the oscillations seem to originate from residual directors in randomly oriented media, i.e., from residual ensemble anisotropy, as corroborated by quantitative simulations. We then developed an analysis scheme that enables one to map of structural indices such as apparent eccentricity (aE) and residual phase (φ) that enables characterization of the rat brain in general, and especially the rat gray matter. We conclude that double-pulsed-gradient-spin-echo MRI may in principle become important in characterizing gray matter morphological features and pathologies in both basic and applied neurosciences.
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