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White Matter Alterations In Parkinson's Disease Mapped Using Tractometry

By Conor K. Corbin, Vikash Gupta, Julio E. Villalon-Reina, Talia M. Nir, Faisal M. Rashid, Sophia I Thomopoulos, Neda Jahanshad, Paul M. Thompson

Posted 29 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/209858

Neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by a progressive loss of brain function. Improved precision in mapping the altered brain pathways can provide a deep understanding of the trajectory of decline. We propose a tractometry workflow for conducting group statistical analyses of pointwise microstructural measures along white matter fasciculi to identify patterns of abnormalities associated with disease. We combined state-of-the-art tools including fiber registration, tract simplification and fiber matching for accurate point-wise statistical analyses across populations. We test the utility of this method by identifying group differences between Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and healthy controls. We find statistically significant group differences in diffusion MRI derived measures along the anterior thalamic radiations (ATR), corticospinal tract (CST) and regions of the corpus callosum (CC). These pathways are essential for motor control systems within cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical brain networks. Moreover, the reported pathological changes were not widespread but rather localized along several tracts. Point-wise tract analyses may therefore offer an advantage in anatomical specificity over traditional methods that assess mean microstructural measures across large regions of interest.

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