Diffusion tensor imaging using multiple coils for mouse brain connectomics.
The correlation between brain connectivity and psychiatric or neurological diseases has intensified efforts to develop brain connectivity mapping techniques on mouse models of human disease. The neural architecture of mouse brain specimens can be shown non-destructively and three-dimensionally by diffusion tensor imaging, which enables tractography, the establishment of a connectivity matrix and connectomics. However, experiments on cohorts of animals can be prohibitively long. To improve throughput in a 7-T preclinical scanner, we present a novel two-coil system in which each coil is shielded, placed off-isocenter along the axis of the magnet and connected to a receiver circuit of the scanner. Preservation of the quality factor of each coil is essential to signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) performance and throughput, because mouse brain specimen imaging at 7 T takes place in the coil-dominated noise regime. In that regime, we show a shielding configuration causing no SNR degradation in the two-coil system. To acquire data from several coils simultaneously, the coils are placed in the magnet bore, around the isocenter, in which gradient field distortions can bias diffusion tensor imaging metrics, affect tractography and contaminate measurements of the connectivity matrix. We quantified the experimental alterations in fractional anisotropy and eigenvector direction occurring in each coil. We showed that, when the coils were placed 12 mm away from the isocenter, measurements of the brain connectivity matrix appeared to be minimally altered by gradient field distortions. Simultaneous measurements on two mouse brain specimens demonstrated a full doubling of the diffusion tensor imaging throughput in practice. Each coil produced images devoid of shading or artifact. To further improve the throughput of mouse brain connectomics, we suggested a future expansion of the system to four coils. To better understand acceptable trade-offs between imaging throughput and connectivity matrix integrity, studies may seek to clarify how measurement variability, post-processing techniques and biological variability impact mouse brain connectomics.
Nouls, JC; Badea, A; Anderson, RBJ; Cofer, GP; Allan Johnson, G
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