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Tractography-based connectomes are dominated by false-positive connections

By Klaus H. Maier-Hein, Peter Neher, Jean-Christophe Houde, Marc-Alexandre Côté, Eleftherios Garyfallidis, Jidan Zhong, Maxime Chamberland, Fang-Cheng Yeh, Ying-Chia Lin, Qing Ji, Wilburn E. Reddick, John O. Glass, David Qixiang Chen, Yuanjing Feng, Chengfeng Gao, Ye Wu, Jieyan Ma, H Renjie, Qiang Li, Carl-Fredrik Westin, Samuel Deslauriers-Gauthier, J. Omar Ocegueda González, Michael Paquette, Samuel St-Jean, Gabriel Girard, François Rheault, Jasmeen Sidhu, Chantal M.W. Tax, Fenghua Guo, Hamed Y. Mesri, Szabolcs Dávid, Martijn Froeling, Anneriet M. Heemskerk, Alexander Leemans, Arnaud Boré, Basile Pinsard, Christophe Bedetti, Matthieu Desrosiers, Simona Brambati, Julien Doyon, Alessia Sarica, Roberta Vasta, Antonio Cerasa, Aldo Quattrone, Jason Yeatman, Ali R Khan, Wes Hodges, Simon Alexander, David Romascano, Muhamed Barakovic, Anna Auría, Oscar Esteban, Alia Lemkaddem, Jean-Philippe Thiran, H. Ertan Cetingul, Benjamin L. Odry, Boris Mailhe, Mariappan S. Nadar, F. Pizzagalli, Gautam Prasad, Julio E. Villalon-Reina, Justin Galvis, Paul Thompson, Francisco De Santiago Requejo, Pedro Luque Laguna, Luis Miguel Lacerda, Rachel Barrett, Flavio Dell’Acqua, Marco Catani, Laurent Petit, Emmanuel Caruyer, Alessandro Daducci, Tim B. Dyrby, Tim Holland-Letz, Claus C. Hilgetag, Bram Stieltjes, Maxime Descoteaux

Posted 07 Nov 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/084137 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01285-x)

Fiber tractography based on non-invasive diffusion imaging is at the heart of connectivity studies of the human brain. To date, the approach has not been systematically validated in ground truth studies. Based on a simulated human brain dataset with ground truth white matter tracts, we organized an open international tractography challenge, which resulted in 96 distinct submissions from 20 research groups. While most state-of-the-art algorithms reconstructed 90% of ground truth bundles to at least some extent, on average they produced four times more invalid than valid bundles. About half of the invalid bundles occurred systematically in the majority of submissions. Our results demonstrate fundamental ambiguities inherent to tract reconstruction methods based on diffusion orientation information, with critical consequences for the approach of diffusion tractography in particular and human connectivity studies in general.

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