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Abstract #3409

Distribution of principal diffusion direction orientations: a novel method to characterize age-related changes in the brain.

Maria Eugenia Caligiuri1, Aldo Quattrone1,2, and Andrea Cherubini1

1Institute of Bioimaging and Molecular Physiology (IBFM), National Research Council, Catanzaro, Italy, 2Institute of Neurology, University Magna Graecia, Catanzaro, Italy

Diffusion-weighted MRI of the brain allows the assessment of tissue integrity at the microscale. The most commonly used technique to analyze diffusion-weighted data is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which relies on the reconstruction of the diffusion tensor at each MRI voxel by calculating its eigenvalues and eigenvectors. These quantities allow the estimation of scalar DTI maps measuring mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA), which are considered markers of structural tissue integrity. To date, DTI has been extensively used in the field of neuroimaging to study brain microstructural integrity in healthy subjects and patients with several different neurological conditions. However, despite the three-dimensional nature of the tensor, existing studies have focused on changes in DTI-derived scalar indexes, such as MD and FA, not considering the orientation of the principal eigenvector of the tensor, which could provide invaluable insight on the nature of tissue changes, but is still only used for color-coding FA maps for qualitative, visual purposes.

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