Connectivity gradients on tractography data: Pipeline and example applications

Hum Brain Mapp. 2021 Dec 15;42(18):5827-5845. doi: 10.1002/hbm.25623. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


Gray matter connectivity can be described in terms of its topographical organization, but the differential role of white matter connections underlying that organization is often unknown. In this study, we propose a method for unveiling principles of organization of both gray and white matter based on white matter connectivity as assessed using diffusion magnetic ressonance imaging (MRI) tractography with spectral embedding gradient mapping. A key feature of the proposed approach is its capacity to project the individual connectivity gradients it reveals back onto its input data in the form of projection images, allowing one to assess the contributions of specific white matter tracts to the observed gradients. We demonstrate the ability of our proposed pipeline to identify connectivity gradients in prefrontal and occipital gray matter. Finally, leveraging the use of tractography, we demonstrate that it is possible to observe gradients within the white matter bundles themselves. Together, the proposed framework presents a generalized way to assess both the topographical organization of structural brain connectivity and the anatomical features driving it.

Keywords: connectivity; gradients; topography; tractography.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / diagnostic imaging*
  • White Matter / diagnostic imaging*
  • Young Adult