A new method to derive white matter conductivity from diffusion tensor MRI

Kun Wang, Shanan Zhu, Bryon A. Mueller, Kelvin O. Lim, Zhongming Liu, Bin He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We propose a new algorithm to derive the anisotropic conductivity of the cerebral white matter (WM) from the diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI) data. The transportation processes for both water molecules and electrical charges are described through a common multicompartment model that consists of axons, glia, or the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The volume fraction (VF) of each compartment varies from voxel to voxel and is estimated from the measured diffusion tensor. The conductivity tensor at each voxel is then computed from the estimated VF values and the decomposed eigenvectors of the diffusion tensor. The proposed VF algorithm was applied to the DT-MRI data acquired from two healthy human subjects. The extracted anisotropic conductivity distribution was compared with those obtained by using two existing algorithms, which were based upon a linear conductivity-to-diffusivity relationship and a volume constraint, respectively. The present results suggest that the VF algorithm is capable of incorporating the partial volume effects of the CSF and the intravoxel fiber crossing structure, both of which are not addressed altogether by existing algorithms. Therefore, it holds potential to provide a more accurate estimate of the WM anisotropic conductivity, and may have important applications to neuroscience research or clinical applications in neurology and neurophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
Pages (from-to)2481-2486
Number of pages6
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received August 15, 2007; revised November 18, 2007. First published June 10, 2008; current version published September 26, 2008. This work was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health under Grant RO1EB007920, Grant RO1EB00178, and Grant R21EB006070, in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant BES-0411898, Grant BES-0602957, and Grant NSFC-50577055, and in part by a grant from the Institute for Engineering in Medicine (IEM), University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. Asterisk indicates corresponding author.


  • Anisotropy
  • Diffusion tensor MRI (DT-MRI)
  • Electrical conductivity
  • Intravoxel fiber crossing
  • Partial volume effects
  • White matter (WM)

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