Diffusion MRI and its Role in Neuropsychology

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31 Scopus citations


Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) is a popular method used by neuroscientists to uncover unique information about the structural connections within the brain. dMRI is a non-invasive imaging methodology in which image contrast is based on the diffusion of water molecules in tissue. While applicable to many tissues in the body, this review focuses exclusively on the use of dMRI to examine white matter in the brain. In this review, we begin with a definition of diffusion and how diffusion is measured with MRI. Next we introduce the diffusion tensor model, the predominant model used in dMRI. We then describe acquisition issues related to acquisition parameters and scanner hardware and software. Sources of artifacts are then discussed, followed by a brief review of analysis approaches. We provide an overview of the limitations of the traditional diffusion tensor model, and highlight several more sophisticated non-tensor models that better describe the complex architecture of the brain’s white matter. We then touch on reliability and validity issues of diffusion measurements. Finally, we describe examples of ways in which dMRI has been applied to studies of brain disorders and how identified alterations relate to symptomatology and cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)250-271
Number of pages22
JournalNeuropsychology review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 13 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Diffusion
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychology
  • Reliability
  • Validity


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