Informed constrained spherical deconvolution (iCSD)

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Medical Image Analysis, Volume 24, Issue 1, p.269–281 (2015)



Connectomics, constrained spherical deconvolution, Diffusion MRI, fiber orientation, gray matter, partial volume effect, Response function, Tractography


Diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive imaging method, which can be used to investigate neural tracts in the white matter (WM) of the brain. However, the voxel sizes used in DW-MRI are relatively large, making DW-MRI prone to significant partial volume effects (PVE). These PVEs can be caused both by complex (e.g. crossing) WM fiber configurations and non-WM tissue, such as gray matter (GM) and cerebrospinal fluid. High angular resolution diffusion imaging methods have been developed to correctly characterize complex WM fiber configurations, but significant non-WM PVEs are also present in a large proportion of WM voxels.
In constrained spherical deconvolution (CSD), the full fiber orientation distribution function (fODF) is deconvolved from clinically feasible DW data using a response function (RF) representing the signal of a single coherently oriented population of fibers. Non-WM PVEs cause a loss of precision in the detected fiber orientations and an emergence of false peaks in CSD, more prominently in voxels with GM PVEs. We propose a method, informed CSD (iCSD), to improve the estimation of fODFs under non-WM PVEs by modifying the RF to account for non-WM PVEs locally. In practice, the RF is modified based on tissue fractions estimated from high-resolution anatomical data.
Results from simulation and in-vivo bootstrapping experiments demonstrate a significant improvement in the precision of the identified fiber orientations and in the number of false peaks detected under GM PVEs. Probabilistic whole brain tractography shows fiber density is increased in the major WM tracts and decreased in subcortical GM regions. The iCSD method significantly improves the fiber orientation estimation at the WM-GM interface, which is especially important in connectomics, where the connectivity between GM regions is analyzed.