Diffusion-Tensor Imaging and Behavioral Medicine

  • Stephen Correia
  • Assawin Gongvatana


Historically, the role of white matter in human cognition and behavior has received less attention than that of gray matter (Filley, The Behavioral Neurology of White Matter, 2001). It was not until the 1960s that Geschwind (1926–1984) firmly established the importance of white matter in supporting normal mental activity in his classic work on disconnection syndromes (Geschwind, Brain 88:237–294, 585–644, 1965; Geschwind and Kaplan, Neurology 12:675–685, 1962). Since then, interest in the role of white matter in cognition, emotion, and behavior has grown. By the late 1980s, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was widely adopted for detecting brain disorders. The introduction of diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) in the mid-1990s (Basser, NMR Biomed 8:333–344, 1995; Basser et al., J Magn Reson B 103:247–254, 1994; Basser et al., Biophys J 66:259–267, 1994) provided a new in vivo MRI tool for gaining unprecedented insight into the structure of white matter and its functional correlates. DTI provides information about the structural coherence and topography of biological tissue based on the measurement of rate and direction of water diffusion. DTI is particularly useful in fibrous tissue such as cerebral white matter or muscle where the linear arrangement of cell structures constrains water to diffuse faster along the fibers than in other directions.


White Matter Fractional Anisotropy Corpus Callosum Mean Diffusivity Radial Diffusivity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Kathryn Devlin for her help in preparing the manuscript. The views expressed in this chapter are not those of the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Human BehaviorBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

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