Potential and limitations of diffusion MRI tractography for the study of language

Brain Lang. 2014 Apr:131:65-73. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2013.06.007. Epub 2013 Jul 30.


Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a tremendously promising tool for imaging tissue microstructure, and for inferring large scale structural connectivity in vivo. However, the sensitivity of the technique is highly dependent on methodological details. Acquisition parameters, pre-processing steps, reconstruction models, and statistical analysis all affect the final sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of a study. In the case of fiber pathway reconstruction in the central nervous system, termed tractography, false positive and false negative results abound, and interpretation of results must take into account the potential shortcomings of the techniques used. This article will review the strengths and limitations of different types of diffusion MRI tractography analysis, and highlight what one can realistically hope to learn from such imaging studies of the human brain.

Keywords: Connectome; Diffusion MRI; Diffusion tensor imaging; Fiber tracking; Fiber tract; Language; Macaque; Segmentation; Tractography; Tractometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Connectome
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Language*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • White Matter / anatomy & histology