Digital diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) templates of the adult human brain are commonly used in neuroimaging research, and their characteristics influence the accuracy of the application. However, a systematic evaluation of the characteristics and performance of standardized and study-specific DTI templates has not been conducted. The purpose of this work was to compare eight available standardized DTI templates to each other (ICBM81, ENIGMA, FMRIB58, SRI24, IIT2, NTU-DSI-122-DTI, IIT v.3.0, Eve), as well as to study-specific templates, in terms of template characteristics (image sharpness, ability to identify small brain structures, artifacts, mean values, noise properties) and performance in spatial normalization and detection of small inter-group FA differences. The IIT v.3.0 template was shown to combine a number of desirable characteristics: includes full-tensor information, is population-based, has high image sharpness, shows no visible artifacts, has low noise levels, has diffusion tensor properties and spatial features representative of data from the average individual adult brain. Furthermore, the IIT v.3.0 template was shown to allow higher inter-subject DTI spatial normalization accuracy, and detection of smaller inter-group FA differences, compared to all other templates, including study-specific templates. These findings were consistent when evaluating the templates in younger as well as older adult cohorts.
Keywords: Atlas; Comparison; DTI; Diffusion; MRI; Template.
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