Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging holds substantial promise as a technique for non-invasive imaging of white matter (WM) axonal projections. For diffusion imaging to be capable of providing new insight into the connectional neuroanatomy of the human brain, it will be necessary to histologically validate the technique against established tracer methods such as horseradish peroxidase and biocytin histochemistry. The macaque monkey provides an ideal model for histological validation of the diffusion imaging method due to the phylogenetic proximity between humans and macaques, the gyrencephalic structure of the macaque cortex, the large body of knowledge on the neuroanatomic connectivity of the macaque brain and the ability to use comparable magnetic resonance acquisition protocols in both species. Recently, it has been shown that high angular resolution diffusion imaging (HARDI) can resolve multiple axon orientations within an individual imaging voxel in human WM. This capability promises to boost the accuracy of tract reconstructions from diffusion imaging. If the macaque is to serve as a model for histological validation of the diffusion tractography method, it will be necessary to show that HARDI can also resolve intravoxel architecture in macaque WM. The present study therefore sought to test whether the technique can resolve intravoxel structure in macaque WM. Using a HARDI method called q-ball imaging (QBI) it was possible to resolve composite intravoxel architecture in a number of anatomic regions. QBI resolved intravoxel structure in, for example, the dorsolateral convexity, the pontine decussation, the pulvinar and temporal subcortical WM. The paper concludes by reviewing remaining challenges for the diffusion tractography project.
One contribution of 21 to a Theme Issue ‘Multimodal neuroimaging of brain connectivity’.
- © 2005 The Royal Society