Fiber Tractography Lab

The Fiber Tractography Lab, led by Fang-Cheng (Frank) Yeh, MD, PhD, focuses on the exploration of connectomics as a promising imaging biomarker for understanding and diagnosing brain disorders. The lab’s primary research interest lies in method development, which involves collaboration with esteemed experts from diverse disciplines, including radiologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and neurosurgeons. Through these collaborations, the lab strives to discover novel applications of diffusion MRI, pushing the boundaries of knowledge in this domain. The ultimate goal of the lab is to leverage innovative imaging methods to unravel the intricate mechanisms underlying both normal and dysfunctional brain function in translational neuroscience.

With dedicated work in the tractography and structural connectome field, the lab has played an instrumental role in introducing groundbreaking concepts that have revolutionized the field. Notable contributions include the development of the tract-to-region connectome, shape analysis of tracts, and differential tractography. These novel approaches have significantly enhanced the utility of connectomics in research and clinical applications, driving advancements and fostering innovation in the field.

The Fiber Tractography Lab’s extensive experience, multidisciplinary collaborations, and unwavering dedication to innovative research make it a compelling candidate for grants in the field. The lab is committed to making substantial contributions to the understanding of brain disorders, with the aim of improving diagnostics and interventions.

These are the main areas of research:

Novel Tractography Modalities: Correlational Tractography and Differential Tractography 

The Fiber Tractography Lab is honored to have made pioneering contributions to the field of tractography-based connectomics. The lab’s groundbreaking concepts have transformed the understanding and analysis of brain connectivity. Notably, the lab’s development of correlational tractography has been a significant innovation. This approach has enabled the mapping of pathways strongly correlated with specific study variables, providing valuable insights into the relationship between brain connectivity and clinical and cognitive factors. These insights have the potential to greatly impact the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders.

In addition to correlational tractography, the lab has been at the forefront of utilizing differential tractography. This technique has allowed the identification and mapping of pathways undergoing significant neuronal changes over time. By capturing and analyzing these changes, the lab has gained unprecedented understanding of brain plasticity and pathology. These findings have advanced our knowledge of neurological conditions and their progression.

To further enhance tractography analysis, the lab has successfully integrated shape analysis techniques from the field of computer vision. This innovative approach has provided a more comprehensive analysis of fiber pathway architecture, surpassing traditional connectivity measures. By examining the structural characteristics of neural connections, the lab has uncovered novel insights into the organization and function of the brain’s intricate network. The integration of shape analysis has received widespread recognition and has been cited in numerous high-impact publications, solidifying the lab’s position as a trailblazer in the field.

The lab is committed to advancing the field of tractography-based connectomics by sharing its innovative approaches and providing invaluable tools and methodologies to researchers worldwide. Through this collaborative effort, the lab aims to drive advancements in the understanding of brain connectivity and its implications for neurological disorders. The team remains dedicated to pioneering research and looks forward to continuing its journey of unraveling the complexities of the human brain.

Construction of Diffusion MRI Templates, Tractography Atlases, and Structural Connectome

The Fiber Tractography Lab has made significant and unique contributions to the field of tractography connectomics and templates, reshaping the landscape of diffusion MRI-based research. Through its efforts, the lab has introduced innovative concepts such as the tract-to-region connectome and beyond-tensor templates, pushing the boundaries of exploration and understanding.

Recognizing the limitations of traditional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) templates with low-angular resolution, the lab embarked on a transformative journey to develop beyond-tensor templates that transcend the constraints of DTI. These advanced templates provide diffusion distribution at significantly higher angular resolution, unlocking the potential for unprecedented template-space fiber tracking. The lab’s methodology has yielded remarkable outcomes, allowing researchers to conduct spatial geometry studies of major white matter pathways with unparalleled precision and fidelity. By harnessing the power of its beyond-tensor templates, the lab has surpassed existing templates based on DTI, providing researchers with the tools to explore the intricacies of brain connectivity and unravel enigmatic pathways.

The lab’s beyond-tensor diffusion MRI templates and tractography atlases have propelled the field of connectomics into a new era of accuracy and detail. By offering enhanced resolution and accuracy, methodologies have enabled researchers to investigate complex fiber pathways with unprecedented precision, shedding light on the fundamental organization of the brain. These resources have opened up avenues for more accurate diagnoses, targeted interventions, and improved patient outcomes in the realm of neurological disorders. The insights gained from these beyond-tensor templates and atlases have the potential to drive advancements in personalized medicine, paving the way for tailored treatments and therapies.

The Fiber Tractography Lab remains committed to fostering collaboration and sharing its contributions to the field. Through its endeavors, the lab hopes to empower researchers and clinicians worldwide to further unravel the mysteries of brain connectivity, ultimately improving the lives of individuals affected by neurological disorders.

High Accuracy Tractography

The Fiber Tractography Lab has taken on the challenge of addressing the limitations of conventional diffusion MRI methods in accurately tracking fiber pathways. The lab’s team has pioneered a novel density-based measurement that significantly enhances the accuracy of fiber tracking algorithms.

Compared to traditional diffusivity-based measurements like fractional anisotropy, the lab’s method has demonstrated remarkable improvements in accuracy. To validate its effectiveness, the lab has participated in a global competition organized by the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM). Among the numerous approaches submitted by esteemed groups worldwide, the lab’s density-based measurement achieved the highest valid connection score of 92.49% (ID#03). This exceptional performance stands as a testament to the efficacy of the Fiber Tractography Lab’s method in substantially improving the accuracy of diffusion MRI fiber tracking.

Building upon this success, the lab has recently integrated its high-accuracy fiber tracking method with a topology-informed approach. By incorporating topological information, lab researchers have further enhanced accuracy and expanded its clinical applicability. This breakthrough advancement enables more robust and reliable fiber tracking, allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex connectivity patterns within the brain.

The integration of the lab’s density-based measurement and topology-informed approach represents a significant milestone in diffusion MRI-based research. By overcoming the limitations of traditional methods, the lab’s researchers have paved the way for more precise and reliable fiber tracking. This empowers researchers and clinicians in their investigations of brain connectivity, providing them with valuable tools to advance the diagnosis, treatment, and understanding of neurological disorders.

The Fiber Tractography Lab remains committed to humility and continued progress in the field. The lab’s researchers strive to collaborate with fellow researchers and clinicians, sharing knowledge and methodologies to collectively drive advancements in diffusion MRI-based research. By humbly contributing to the field, they aspire to make a lasting impact on the understanding and management of neurological disorders, ultimately improving patient outcomes and quality of life.

DSI Studio: An Integrative Platform for Tractography Analysis

For over a decade, the dedicated efforts of the research team have been centered around the development of DSI Studio—a remarkable diffusion MRI analysis tool that has revolutionized brain connectivity research. The lab’s unwavering commitment has resulted in the creation of a powerful, integrative, and cutting-edge software that has transformed the field.

DSI Studio has gained widespread acclaim within the neuroscience community, standing as a widely recognized and respected software tool. Its advanced functionalities enable comprehensive diffusion MRI analysis, encompassing image preprocessing, tensor estimation, and fiber tractography. By providing diverse tractography algorithms and templates, DSI Studio offers a flexible and customizable framework for investigating brain connectivity. Researchers can leverage its versatility to optimize their analyses, with additional features such as automatic quality control, region-of-interest (ROI) editing, and clustering analysis.

The scope of DSI Studio extends beyond its standard capabilities, accommodating multiple diffusion MRI data types, including conventional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and Q-space imaging. This broad compatibility ensures its suitability for a wide range of research studies, enhancing its utility within the scientific community.

The significant impact of DSI Studio is evident through its extensive citation count, surpassing 2,000 publications. This impressive usage attests to the tool’s widespread recognition and its contribution to advancing neuroscience. The development team has continually enhanced and updated DSI Studio, incorporating features such as GPU acceleration, parallel computing, and cloud-based computing. These advancements have facilitated the processing of larger datasets and reduced computation time, empowering researchers in their investigations.

DSI Studio is the culmination of years of diligent research and development. Its comprehensive functionalities, advanced tools, and compatibility with various diffusion MRI data types have propelled it to the forefront of diffusion MRI analysis. Its broad adoption and continuous improvement have solidified DSI Studio as an indispensable tool for researchers worldwide, fostering groundbreaking discoveries and driving advancements in the field of brain connectivity.