Microstructural Imaging

One of CUBRIC’s key research foci is in microstructural imaging.We utilise multiple imaging contrasts to quantify different aspects of white matter, including standard diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI), ‘advanced’ models of diffusion (e.g. CHARMED), multi-component relaxometry, quantitative magnetization transfer, and quantitative susceptibility mapping.

In addition to the boost in signals from the microstructure and 7T human scanners, we have a strategic partnership with Cardiff University’s Experimental MRI Centre with a 9.4T horizontal bore system that allows us to validate microstructural measurements.

Example topics that we work on include:-

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1) How can we make our microstructural measurements as robust as possible?

There are multiple confounds in the pipeline from acquisition through to interpretation of quantitative images that have been overlooked in the past. We strive to reduce as many sources of variance and bias as possible. Our work includes optimisation of acquisition protocols, pre-processing, robust parameter extraction (ODFs and scalar indices), and robust analysis pipelines at the voxel, tract and network-based levels.

2) What is the best way to characterize white matter?

Acquiring multiple contrast images takes time, and there are interdependencies in the measurements. Our work aims to identify the most efficient way of capturing the most salient features of white matter microstructure.

3) How do individual differences in behaviour, cognition and electrophysiology relate to individual differences in tissue microstructure?

We have numerous projects combining microstructural measurements with cognitive testing data and magnetoencephalography (MEG) data.

4) What do ‘advanced’ microstructural metrics add to DT-MRI in understanding disease processes?

We apply the gamut of microstructural measurements in a wide range of developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders, including those at familial/genetic risk of disorders.