Age is reflected in the Fractal Dimensionality of MRI Diffusion Based Tractography

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 3;8(1):5431. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23769-6.


Fractal analysis is a widely used tool to analyze the geometrical complexity of biological structures. The geometry of natural objects such as plants, clouds, cellular structures, blood vessel, and many others cannot be described sufficiently with Euclidian geometric properties, but can be represented by a parameter called the fractal dimension. Here we show that a specific estimate of fractal dimension, the correlation dimension, is able to describe changes in the structural complexity of the human brain, based on data from magnetic resonance diffusion imaging. White matter nerve fiber bundles, represented by tractograms, were analyzed with regards to geometrical complexity, using fractal geometry. The well-known age-related change of white matter tissue was used to verify changes by means of fractal dimension. Structural changes in the brain were successfully be observed and quantified by fractal dimension and compared with changes in fractional anisotropy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging*
  • Female
  • Fractals*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter / physiology
  • Young Adult