Langhein M, Lyall AE, Steinmann S, Seitz-Holland J, Nägele FL, Cetin-Karayumak S, Zhang F, Rauh J, Mußmann M, Billah T, Makris N, Pasternak O, O’Donnell LJ, Rathi Y, Leicht G, Kubicki M, Shenton ME, Mulert C. The decoupling of structural and functional connectivity of auditory networks in individuals at clinical high-risk for psychosis. The world journal of biological psychiatry : the official journal of the World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry. 2023;24(5):387–399.

OBJECTIVES: Disrupted auditory networks play an important role in the pathophysiology of psychosis, with abnormalities already observed in individuals at clinical high-risk for psychosis (CHR). Here, we examine structural and functional connectivity of an auditory network in CHR utilising state-of-the-art electroencephalography and diffusion imaging techniques.

METHODS: Twenty-six CHR subjects and 13 healthy controls (HC) underwent diffusion MRI and electroencephalography while performing an auditory task. We investigated structural connectivity, measured as fractional anisotropy in the Arcuate Fasciculus (AF), Cingulum Bundle, and Superior Longitudinal Fasciculus-II. Gamma-band lagged-phase synchronisation, a functional connectivity measure, was calculated between cortical regions connected by these tracts.

RESULTS: CHR subjects showed significantly higher structural connectivity in the right AF than HC (p < .001). Although non-significant, functional connectivity between cortical areas connected by the AF was lower in CHR than HC (p = .078). Structural and functional connectivity were correlated in HC (p = .056) but not in CHR (p = .29).

CONCLUSIONS: We observe significant differences in structural connectivity of the AF, without a concomitant significant change in functional connectivity in CHR subjects. This may suggest that the CHR state is characterised by a decoupling of structural and functional connectivity, possibly due to abnormal white matter maturation.

Bumm R, Zaffino P, Lasso A, Estepar RSJ, Pieper S, Wasserthal J, Spadea MF, Latshang T, Kawel-Böhm N, Wäckerlin A, Werner R, Hässig G, Furrer M, Kikinis R. From Voxels to Prognosis: AI-Driven Quantitative Chest CT Analysis Forecasts ICU Requirements in 78 COVID-19 Cases. Research square. 2023;.

BACKGROUND: The aim of the current study was to investigate the distribution and extent of lung involvement in patients with COVID-19 with AI-supported, automated computer analysis and to assess the relationship between lung involvement and the need for intensive care unit (ICU) admission. A secondary aim was to compare the performance of computer analysis with the judgment of radiological experts.

METHODS: A total of 81 patients from an open-source COVID database with confirmed COVID-19 infection were included in the study. Three patients were excluded. Lung involvement was assessed in 78 patients using computed tomography (CT) scans, and the extent of infiltration and collapse was quantified across various lung lobes and regions. The associations between lung involvement and ICU admission were analyzed. Additionally, the computer analysis of COVID-19 involvement was compared against a human rating provided by radiological experts.

RESULTS: The results showed a higher degree of infiltration and collapse in the lower lobes compared to the upper lobes (p < 0.05) No significant difference was detected in the COVID-19-related involvement of the left and right lower lobes. The right middle lobe demonstrated lower involvement compared to the right lower lobes (p < 0.05). When examining the regions, significantly more COVID-19 involvement was found when comparing the posterior vs. the anterior halves of the lungs and the lower vs. the upper half of the lungs. Patients, who required ICU admission during their treatment exhibited significantly higher COVID-19 involvement in their lung parenchyma according to computer analysis, compared to patients who remained in general wards. Patients with more than 40% COVID-19 involvement were almost exclusively treated in intensive care. A high correlation was observed between computer detection of COVID-19 affections and expert rating by radiological experts.

CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that the extent of lung involvement, particularly in the lower lobes, dorsal lungs, and lower half of the lungs, may be associated with the need for ICU admission in patients with COVID-19. Computer analysis showed a high correlation with expert rating, highlighting its potential utility in clinical settings for assessing lung involvement. This information may help guide clinical decision-making and resource allocation during ongoing or future pandemics. Further studies with larger sample sizes are warranted to validate these findings.

Tregidgo HFJ, Soskic S, Althonayan J, Maffei C, Van Leemput K, Golland P, Insausti R, Lerma-Usabiaga G, Caballero-Gaudes C, Paz-Alonso PM, Yendiki A, Alexander DC, Bocchetta M, Rohrer JD, Iglesias JE, Initiative ADN. Accurate Bayesian segmentation of thalamic nuclei using diffusion MRI and an improved histological atlas. NeuroImage. 2023;274:120129.

The human thalamus is a highly connected brain structure, which is key for the control of numerous functions and is involved in several neurological disorders. Recently, neuroimaging studies have increasingly focused on the volume and connectivity of the specific nuclei comprising this structure, rather than looking at the thalamus as a whole. However, accurate identification of cytoarchitectonically designed histological nuclei on standard in vivo structural MRI is hampered by the lack of image contrast that can be used to distinguish nuclei from each other and from surrounding white matter tracts. While diffusion MRI may offer such contrast, it has lower resolution and lacks some boundaries visible in structural imaging. In this work, we present a Bayesian segmentation algorithm for the thalamus. This algorithm combines prior information from a probabilistic atlas with likelihood models for both structural and diffusion MRI, allowing segmentation of 25 thalamic labels per hemisphere informed by both modalities. We present an improved probabilistic atlas, incorporating thalamic nuclei identified from histology and 45 white matter tracts surrounding the thalamus identified in ultra-high gradient strength diffusion imaging. We present a family of likelihood models for diffusion tensor imaging, ensuring compatibility with the vast majority of neuroimaging datasets that include diffusion MRI data. The use of these diffusion likelihood models greatly improves identification of nuclear groups versus segmentation based solely on structural MRI. Dice comparison of 5 manually identifiable groups of nuclei to ground truth segmentations show improvements of up to 10 percentage points. Additionally, our chosen model shows a high degree of reliability, with median test-retest Dice scores above 0.85 for four out of five nuclei groups, whilst also offering improved detection of differential thalamic involvement in Alzheimer's disease (AUROC 81.98%). The probabilistic atlas and segmentation tool will be made publicly available as part of the neuroimaging package FreeSurfer (


Xu J, Moyer D, Grant E, Golland P, Iglesias JE, Adalsteinsson E. SVoRT: Iterative Transformer for Slice-to-Volume Registration in Fetal Brain MRI. Medical image computing and computer-assisted intervention : MICCAI . International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention. 2022;13436:3–13.

Volumetric reconstruction of fetal brains from multiple stacks of MR slices, acquired in the presence of almost unpredictable and often severe subject motion, is a challenging task that is highly sensitive to the initialization of slice-to-volume transformations. We propose a novel slice-to-volume registration method using Transformers trained on synthetically transformed data, which model multiple stacks of MR slices as a sequence. With the attention mechanism, our model automatically detects the relevance between slices and predicts the transformation of one slice using information from other slices. We also estimate the underlying 3D volume to assist slice-to-volume registration and update the volume and transformations alternately to improve accuracy. Results on synthetic data show that our method achieves lower registration error and better reconstruction quality compared with existing state-of-the-art methods. Experiments with real-world MRI data are also performed to demonstrate the ability of the proposed model to improve the quality of 3D reconstruction under severe fetal motion.

Zekelman LR, Zhang F, Makris N, He J, Chen Y, Xue T, Liera D, Drane DL, Rathi Y, Golby AJ, Donnell LJO. White Matter Association Tracts Underlying Language and Theory of Mind: An Investigation of 809 Brains from the Human Connectome Project. Neuroimage. 2022;246:118739.

Language and theory of mind (ToM) are the cognitive capacities that allow for the successful interpretation and expression of meaning. While functional MRI investigations are able to consistently localize language and ToM to specific cortical regions, diffusion MRI investigations point to an inconsistent and sometimes overlapping set of white matter tracts associated with these two cognitive domains. To further examine the white matter tracts that may underlie these domains, we use a two-tensor tractography method to investigate the white matter microstructure of 809 participants from the Human Connectome Project. 20 association white matter tracts (10 in each hemisphere) are uniquely identified by leveraging a neuroanatomist-curated automated white matter tract atlas. The mean fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and number of streamlines (NoS) are measured for each white matter tract. Performance on neuropsychological assessments of semantic memory (NIH Toolbox Picture Vocabulary Test, TPVT) and emotion perception (Penn Emotion Recognition Test, PERT) are used to measure critical subcomponents of the language and ToM networks, respectively. Regression models are constructed to examine how structural measurements of left and right white matter tracts influence performance across these two assessments. We find that semantic memory performance is influenced by the number of streamlines of the left superior longitudinal fasciculus III (SLF-III), and emotion perception performance is influenced by the number of streamlines of the right SLF-III. Additionally, we find that performance on both semantic memory & emotion perception is influenced by the FA of the left arcuate fasciculus (AF). The results point to multiple, overlapping white matter tracts that underlie the cognitive domains of language and ToM. Results are discussed in terms of hemispheric dominance and concordance with prior investigations.

Robles DJ, Dharani A, Rostowsky KA, Chaudhari NN, Ngo V, Zhang F, Donnell LJO, Green L, Sheikh-Bahaei N, Chui HC, Irimia A. Older Age, Male Sex, and Cerebral Microbleeds Predict White Matter Loss After Traumatic Brain Injury. Geroscience. 2022;44(1):83–102.

Little is known on how mild traumatic brain injury affects white matter based on age at injury, sex, cerebral microbleeds, and time since injury. Here, we study the fractional anisotropy of white matter to study these effects in 109 participants aged 18-77 (46 females, age μ ± σ = 40 ± 17 years) imaged within [Formula: see text] 1 week and [Formula: see text] 6 months post-injury. Age is found to be linearly associated with white matter degradation, likely due not only to injury but also to cumulative effects of other pathologies and to their interactions with injury. Age is associated with mean anisotropy decreases in the corpus callosum, middle longitudinal fasciculi, inferior longitudinal and occipitofrontal fasciculi, and superficial frontal and temporal fasciculi. Over [Formula: see text] 6 months, the mean anisotropies of the corpus callosum, left superficial frontal fasciculi, and left corticospinal tract decrease significantly. Independently of other predictors, age and cerebral microbleeds contribute to anisotropy decrease in the callosal genu. Chronically, the white matter of commissural tracts, left superficial frontal fasciculi, and left corticospinal tract degrade appreciably, independently of other predictors. Our findings suggest that large commissural and intra-hemispheric structures are at high risk for post-traumatic degradation. This study identifies detailed neuroanatomic substrates consistent with brain injury patients’ age-dependent deficits in information processing speed, interhemispheric communication, motor coordination, visual acuity, sensory integration, reading speed/comprehension, executive function, personality, and memory. We also identify neuroanatomic features underlying white matter degradation whose severity is associated with the male sex. Future studies should compare our findings to functional measures and other neurodegenerative processes.

Gagoski B, Xu J, Wighton P, Tisdall D, Frost R, Lo WC, Golland P, van der Kouwe A, Adalsteinsson E, Grant E. Automated Detection and Reacquisition of Motion-degraded Images in Fetal HASTE Imaging at 3T. Magn Reson Med. 2022;87(4):1914–22.

PURPOSE: Fetal brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging suffers from unpredictable and unconstrained fetal motion that causes severe image artifacts even with half-Fourier single-shot fast spin echo (HASTE) readouts. This work presents the implementation of a closed-loop pipeline that automatically detects and reacquires HASTE images that were degraded by fetal motion without any human interaction. METHODS: A convolutional neural network that performs automatic image quality assessment (IQA) was run on an external GPU-equipped computer that was connected to the internal network of the MRI scanner. The modified HASTE pulse sequence sent each image to the external computer, where the IQA convolutional neural network evaluated it, and then the IQA score was sent back to the sequence. At the end of the HASTE stack, the IQA scores from all the slices were sorted, and only slices with the lowest scores (corresponding to the slices with worst image quality) were reacquired. RESULTS: The closed-loop HASTE acquisition framework was tested on 10 pregnant mothers, for a total of 73 acquisitions of our modified HASTE sequence. The IQA convolutional neural network, which was successfully employed by our modified sequence in real time, achieved an accuracy of 85.2% and area under the receiver operator characteristic of 0.899. CONCLUSION: The proposed acquisition/reconstruction pipeline was shown to successfully identify and automatically reacquire only the motion degraded fetal brain HASTE slices in the prescribed stack. This minimizes the overall time spent on HASTE acquisitions by avoiding the need to repeat the entire stack if only few slices in the stack are motion-degraded.

Brabec J, Szczepankiewicz F, Lennartsson F, Englund E, Pebdani H, Bengzon J, Knutsson L, Westin CF, Sundgren PC, Nilsson M. Histogram Analysis of Tensor-Valued Diffusion MRI in Meningiomas: Relation to Consistency, Histological Grade and Type. Neuroimage Clin. 2022;33:102912.

BACKGROUND: Preoperative radiological assessment of meningioma characteristics is of value for pre- and post-operative patient management, counselling, and surgical approach. PURPOSE: To investigate whether tensor-valued diffusion MRI can add to the preoperative prediction of meningioma consistency, grade and type. MATERIALS AND METHODS: 30 patients with intracranial meningiomas (22 WHO grade I, 8 WHO grade II) underwent MRI prior to surgery. Diffusion MRI was performed with linear and spherical b-tensors with b-values up to 2000 s/mm2. The data were used to estimate mean diffusivity (MD), fractional anisotropy (FA), mean kurtosis (MK) and its components-the anisotropic and isotropic kurtoses (MKA and MKI). Meningioma consistency was estimated for 16 patients during resection based on ultrasonic aspiration intensity, ease of resection with instrumentation or suction. Grade and type were determined by histopathological analysis. The relation between consistency, grade and type and dMRI parameters was analyzed inside the tumor ("whole-tumor") and within brain tissue in the immediate periphery outside the tumor ("rim") by histogram analysis. RESULTS: Lower 10th percentiles of MK and MKA in the whole-tumor were associated with firm consistency compared with pooled soft and variable consistency (n = 7 vs 9; U test, p = 0.02 for MKA 10 and p = 0.04 for MK10) and lower 10th percentile of MD with variable against soft and firm (n = 5 vs 11; U test, p = 0.02). Higher standard deviation of MKI in the rim was associated with lower grade (n = 22 vs 8; U test, p = 0.04) and in the MKI maps we observed elevated rim-like structure that could be associated with grade. Higher median MKA and lower median MKI distinguished psammomatous type from other pooled meningioma types (n = 5 vs 25; U test; p = 0.03 for MKA 50 and p = 0.03 and p = 0.04 for MKI 50). CONCLUSION: Parameters from tensor-valued dMRI can facilitate prediction of consistency, grade and type.

Ji Y, Hoge S, Gagoski B, Westin CF, Rathi Y, Ning L. Accelerating Joint Relaxation-Diffusion MRI by Integrating Time Division Multiplexing and Simultaneous Multi-Slice (TDM-SMS) Strategies. Magn Reson Med. 2022;87(6):2697–709.

PURPOSE: To accelerate the acquisition of relaxation-diffusion imaging by integrating time-division multiplexing (TDM) with simultaneous multi-slice (SMS) for EPI and evaluate imaging quality and diffusion measures. METHODS: The time-division multiplexing (TDM) technique and SMS method were integrated to achieve a high slice-acceleration (e.g., 6×) factor for acquiring relaxation-diffusion MRI. Two variants of the sequence, referred to as TDM3e-SMS and TDM2s-SMS, were developed to simultaneously acquire slice groups with three distinct TEs and two slice groups with the same TE, respectively. Both sequences were evaluated on a 3T scanner with in vivo human brains and compared with standard single-band (SB) -EPI and SMS-EPI using diffusion measures and tractography results. RESULTS: Experimental results showed that the TDM3e-SMS sequence with total slice acceleration of 6 (multiplexing factor (MP) = 3 × multi-band factor (MB) = 2) provided similar image intensity and microstructure measures compared to standard SMS-EPI with MB = 2, and yielded less bias in intensity compared to standard SMS-EPI with MB = 4. The three sequences showed a similar positive correlation between TE and mean kurtosis (MK) and a negative correlation between TE and mean diffusivity (MD) in white matter. Multi-fiber tractography also shows consistency of results in TE-dependent measures between different sequences. The TDM2s-SMS sequence (MP = 2, MB = 2) also provided imaging measures similar to standard SMS-EPI sequences (MB = 2) for single-TE diffusion imaging. CONCLUSIONS: The TDM-SMS sequence can provide additional 2x to 3x acceleration to SMS without degrading imaging quality. With the significant reduction in scan time, TDM-SMS makes joint relaxation-diffusion MRI a feasible technique in neuroimaging research to investigate new markers of brain disorders.