An analytical representation of the leading non-Gaussian corrections for a class of diffusion orientation distribution functions (dODFs) is presented. This formula is constructed from the diffusion and diffusional kurtosis tensors, both of which may be estimated with diffusional kurtosis imaging (DKI). By incorporating model-independent non-Gaussian diffusion effects, it improves on the Gaussian approximation used in diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). This analytical representation therefore provides a natural foundation for DKI-based white matter fiber tractography, which has potential advantages over conventional DTI-based fiber tractography in generating more accurate predictions for the orientations of fiber bundles and in being able to directly resolve intra-voxel fiber crossings. The formula is illustrated with numerical simulations for a two-compartment model of fiber crossings and for human brain data. These results indicate that the inclusion of the leading non-Gaussian corrections can significantly affect fiber tractography in white matter regions, such as the centrum semiovale, where fiber crossings are common.
2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.