In this work, we propose DR-TAMAS (Diffeomorphic Registration for Tensor Accurate alignMent of Anatomical Structures), a novel framework for intersubject registration of Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) data sets. This framework is optimized for brain data and its main goal is to achieve an accurate alignment of all brain structures, including white matter (WM), gray matter (GM), and spaces containing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Currently most DTI-based spatial normalization algorithms emphasize alignment of anisotropic structures. While some diffusion-derived metrics, such as diffusion anisotropy and tensor eigenvector orientation, are highly informative for proper alignment of WM, other tensor metrics such as the trace or mean diffusivity (MD) are fundamental for a proper alignment of GM and CSF boundaries. Moreover, it is desirable to include information from structural MRI data, e.g., T1-weighted or T2-weighted images, which are usually available together with the diffusion data. The fundamental property of DR-TAMAS is to achieve global anatomical accuracy by incorporating in its cost function the most informative metrics locally. Another important feature of DR-TAMAS is a symmetric time-varying velocity-based transformation model, which enables it to account for potentially large anatomical variability in healthy subjects and patients. The performance of DR-TAMAS is evaluated with several data sets and compared with other widely-used diffeomorphic image registration techniques employing both full tensor information and/or DTI-derived scalar maps. Our results show that the proposed method has excellent overall performance in the entire brain, while being equivalent to the best existing methods in WM.
Keywords: Diffeomorphic image registration; Diffusion tensor imaging; Fiber tractography.
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