Diffusion MRI (dMRI) reveals microstructural features of the brain white matter by quantifying the anisotropic diffusion of water molecules within axonal bundles. Yet, identifying features such as axonal orientation dispersion, density, diameter, etc., in complex white matter fiber configurations (e.g. crossings) has proved challenging. Besides optimized data acquisition and advanced biophysical models, computational procedures to fit such models to the data are critical. However, these procedures have been largely overlooked by the dMRI microstructure community and new, more versatile, approaches are needed to solve complex biophysical model fitting problems. Existing methods are limited to models assuming single fiber orientation, relevant to limited brain areas like the corpus callosum, or multiple orientations but without the ability to extract detailed microstructural features. Here, we introduce a new and versatile optimization technique (MIX), which enables microstructure imaging of crossing white matter fibers. We provide a MATLAB implementation of MIX, and demonstrate its applicability to general microstructure models in fiber crossings using synthetic as well as ex-vivo and in-vivo brain data.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The work was partly supported by NIH grants P41 EB015894, P30 NS076408, R01 EB008432, and Fulbright Program.
© 2016 The Author(s).