Quantitative DTI Measures

  • Kathleen M. CurranEmail author
  • Louise Emsell
  • Alexander Leemans


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has revolutionized the visualization of white matter in vivo. However, it is far more than a qualitative tool and can also be used to generate quantitative measures related to diffusion magnitude and its degree of anisotropy, which indirectly reflect microstructural organisation. Although highly sensitive to microstructural change, DTI measures lack specificity and are influenced by a wide range of biological and methodological factors. This makes the interpretation of DTI metric changes extremely challenging.

This chapter introduces the most common DTI measures and how they relate to tissue microstructure. Important confounds are addressed, including how DTI metrics are influenced by biological factors such as ageing and pathology, and by methodological factors such as data acquisition, modeling, and analysis.


Diffusion parameters Visualization Axial and radial diffusivity Relationship to neurobiology 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Niall Colgan, University College London for producing and analysing the synthetic data using the Camino: Open-source diffusion-MRI reconstruction and processing tool [89] and Dr. Karla Miller and FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford for supplying the 1.5 and 7 T data.


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Suggested Reading

  1. 90.
    Jones DK, Cercignani M. Twenty-five pitfalls in the analysis of diffusion MRI data. NMR Biomed. 2010;23(7):803–20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 91.
    Jones DK, Knösche TR, Turner R. White matter integrity, fibre count, and other fallacies: the do’s and don’ts of diffusion MRI. Neuroimage. 2013;73:239–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 92.
    Tournier JD, Mori S, Leemans A. Diffusion tensor imaging and beyond. Magn Reson Med. 2011;65(6):1532–56.PubMedCentralCrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 93.
    Wheeler-Kingshott CAM, Cercignani M. About “axial” and “radial” diffusivities. Magn Reson Med. 2009;61(5):1255–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 94.
    Concha L. A macroscopic view of microstructure: using diffusion-weighted images to infer damage, repair, and plasticity of white matter. Neuroscience. 2014;276:14–28.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Curran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Louise Emsell
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alexander Leemans
    • 4
  1. 1.Complex & Adaptive Systems Laboratory, School of Medicine & Medical SciencesUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Translational MRI, Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven and RadiologyUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Universitair Psychiatrisch Centrum (UPC), KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.PROVIDI Lab, Image Sciences InstituteUniversity Medical Center UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands

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