Linking white matter tracts to associated cortical grey matter: a tract extension methodology

D J Tozer, D T Chard, B Bodini, O Ciccarelli, D H Miller, A J Thompson, C A M Wheeler-Kingshott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Quantitative diffusion analysis of white matter (WM) tracts has been utilised in many diseases for determining damage to, and changes in, WM tracts throughout the brain. However, there are limited studies investigating associations between quantitative measures in WM tracts and anatomically linked grey matter (GM), due to the difficulty in determining GM regions connected with a given WM tract. This work describes a straightforward method for extending a WM tract through GM based on geometry. The tract is extended by following a straight line from each point on the tract boundary to the outer boundary of the cortex. A comparison between a multiplanar 2D approach and a 3D method was made. This study also tested an analysis pipeline from tracking WM tracts to quantifying magnetisation transfer ratios (MTR) in the associated cortical GM, and assessed the applicability of the method to healthy control subjects. Tract and associated cortical volumes and MTR values for the cortico-spinal tracts, genu and body of the corpus callosum were extracted; the between-subjects standard deviation was calculated. It was found that a multiplanar 2D approach produced a more anatomically plausible volume of GM than a 3D approach, at the expense of possible overestimation of the GM volume. The between-subjects standard deviation of the tract specific quantitative measurements (from both the WM and GM masks) ranged between 1.2 and 7.3% for the MTR measures, and between 10 and 45% for the absolute volume measures. The results show that the method can be used to produce anatomically plausible extensions of the WM tracts through the GM, and regions defined in this way yield reliable estimates of the MTR from the regions.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberN/A
Pages (from-to)3094-3102
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2012


  • Adult
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male


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