Automated neonatal diffusion MRI data processing to study white matter development
Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is a powerful technique to probe brain connections and microstructure in vivo and non-invasively. However, given the significant structural changes that occur in the neonatal brain, it is challenging to build a standardised atlas of white matter connections. In my talk, I will present a fully automated pre-processing pipeline and a quality control (QC) framework that allow to efficiently analyse in-vivo neonatal data despite the considerable technical challenges specific to neonatal imaging (e.g., small head size, changing tissue contrast, excessive between and within volume motion). Extensions to the proposed processing framework will allow to automatically extract reliable structural neurophenotypes that, when linked to genetics and behaviour, will improve our understanding on how structural development influences each individual.
The central research interest of Dr Matteo Bastiani is the development and application of magnetic resonance methods for neuroimaging to study the structural architecture of the brain. More specifically, he has been working on the analysis of data acquired using diffusion-weighted imaging to study the anatomical connectivity of the brain both non-invasively and in vivo. Such a combination of methodological aspects with neuroanatomy helps to improve and advance our understanding of the architectural organization of the human brain in health and disease alike. Diffusion imaging has been successfully introduced in both clinical and neuroscientific settings, to study neurological disorders (i.e. acute stroke) as well as the brains connectivity. Since its first application, the field related to this technique has experienced an exponential growth in terms of publications and applications. Furthermore, new techniques are constantly being developed to improve the reliability of the way in which we infer the white matter connectivity of the brain. Recent developments have shown that, by using diffusion imaging, it is possible to infer not just the macroscopic organization of white matter, but also its microscopic properties such as axonal diameters. This can be used once more to improve the models of brain connectivity and the early diagnosis of certain neurological diseases. The main goal of the research of Dr Bastiani is to combine both the micro and the macroscopic information which can be obtained by diffusion imaging to reconstruct a reliable model of brain’s white matter organization both at its micro and macro-structural level.