Diffusion properties of cortical and pericortical tissue: Regional variations, reliability and methodological issues

Xiaojian Kang, Timothy J. Herron, And U. Turken, David L Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Characterizing the diffusion properties of cortical tissue is complicated by intersubject variability in the relative locations of gyri and sulci. Here we extend methods of measuring the average diffusion properties of gyral and sulcal structures after they have been aligned to a common template of cortical surface anatomy. Diffusion tensor image (DTI) data were gathered from 82 young subjects and co-registered with high-resolution T1 images that had been inflated and co-registered to a hemispherically unified spherical coordinate system based on FreeSurfer. We analyzed fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD) and the novel quantity of cortical primary diffusion direction (cPDD) at five surfaces parallel to the white/gray junction, spanning approximately 5 mm from the pial surface into white matter. FA increased with increasing depth, whereas MD and cPDD were reduced. There were highly significant and reliable regional differences in FA, MD and cPDD as well as systematic differences between cortical lobes and between the two hemispheres. The influence of nearby cortical spinal fluid (CSF), local cortical curvature and thickness, and sulcal depth was also investigated. We found that FA correlated significantly with cortical curvature and sulcal depth, while MD was strongly influenced by nearby CSF. The measurement of FA, MD and cPDD near the cortical surface clarifies the organization of fiber projections to and from the cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1122
Number of pages12
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Cortical primary diffusion direction
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Fractional anisotropy
  • Gender differences
  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Mean diffusivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Biomedical Engineering


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