Rapid Quantification of White Matter Disconnection in the Human Brain

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2020 Jul:2020:1701-1704. doi: 10.1109/EMBC44109.2020.9176229.


With an estimated five million new stroke survivors every year and a rapidly aging population suffering from hyperintensities and diseases of presumed vascular origin that affect white matter and contribute to cognitive decline, it is critical that we understand the impact of white matter damage on brain structure and behavior. Current techniques for assessing the impact of lesions consider only location, type, and extent, while ignoring how the affected region was connected to the rest of the brain. Regional brain function is a product of both local structure and its connectivity. Therefore, obtaining a map of white matter disconnection is a crucial step that could help us predict the behavioral deficits that patients exhibit. In the present work, we introduce a new practical method for computing lesion-based white matter disconnection maps that require only moderate computational resources. We achieve this by creating diffusion tractography models of the brains of healthy adults and assessing the connectivity between small regions. We then interrupt these connectivity models by projecting patients' lesions into them to compute predicted white matter disconnection. A quantified disconnection map can be computed for an individual patient in approximately 35 seconds using a single core CPU-based computation. In comparison, a similar quantification performed with other tools provided by MRtrix3 takes 5.47 minutes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Mapping
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Humans
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging