Axon diameter mapping in the presence of orientation dispersion with diffusion MRI

Hui Zhang, Penny L. Hubbard, Geoff J M Parker, Daniel C. Alexander

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Direct measurement of tissue microstructure with diffusion MRI offers a new class of markers, such as axon diameters, that give more specific information about tissue than measures derived from diffusion tensor imaging. The existing techniques of this kind assume a single axon orientation in the tissue model, which may be a reasonable approximation only for the most coherently oriented brain white matter, such as the corpus callosum. For most other areas, orientation dispersion is not negligible and, if unaccounted for, leads to overestimation of the axon diameters, prohibiting their accurate mapping over the whole brain. Here we propose a new model that captures the effect of orientation dispersion explicitly. A numerical scheme is developed to compute the diffusion signal prescribed by the proposed model efficiently, which supports the simultaneous estimation of the axon diameter and orientation dispersion. Synthetic data experiments demonstrate that the new model provides an axon diameter index that is robust to the presence of orientation dispersion. Results on in vivo human data show reduced axon diameter index and better agreement with histology compared to previous methods suggesting improvements in the axon diameter estimate. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1301-1315
    Number of pages14
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


    • Axon diameter
    • Diffusion MRI
    • Orientation dispersion


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