The developing brain undergoes profound changes in the first weeks and months after birth, including decreases in water content, increases in cholesterol and glycolipids, changes in axonal caliber, oligodendrocyte proliferation and myelination. Obtaining high-quality diffusion MRI data in neonates can be challenging. Nevertheless, measures derived from diffusion MRI, such as fractional anisotropy (FA) and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values provide objective, reproducible indices to study infant brain development and pathology. Diffusion tractography allows a priori hypotheses regarding structure and function in specific white matter tracts to be tested. Voxel-based approaches to the analysis of diffusion MRI data, such as tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS), can be used as early imaging biomarkers for assessing diffuse white matter injury in the preterm brain and are now being used to assess efficacy of treatment in term infants following hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. 

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiffusion MRI
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Quantitative Measurement to In vivo Neuroanatomy: Second Edition
EditorsHeidi Johansen-Berg, Timothy E. J. Behrens
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780123964601
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Perinatal brain injury
  • Periventricular leukomalacia
  • Preterm infants


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