Simultaneous EEG-fMRI has opened up new avenues for improving the spatio-temporal resolution of functional brain studies. However, this method usually suffers from poor EEG quality, especially for evoked potentials (ERPs), due to specific artifacts. As such, the use of EEG-informed fMRI analysis in the context of cognitive studies has particularly focused on optimizing narrow ERP time windows of interest, which ignores the rich diverse temporal information of the EEG signal. Here, we propose to use simultaneous EEG-fMRI to investigate the neural cascade occurring during face recognition in 14 healthy volunteers by using the successive ERP peaks recorded during the cognitive part of this process. N170, N400 and P600 peaks, commonly associated with face recognition, were successfully and reproducibly identified for each trial and each subject by using a group independent component analysis (ICA). For the first time we use this group ICA to extract several independent components (IC) corresponding to the sequence of activation and used single-trial peaks as modulation parameters in a general linear model (GLM) of fMRI data. We obtained an occipital-temporal-frontal stream of BOLD signal modulation, in accordance with the three successive IC-ERPs providing an unprecedented spatio-temporal characterization of the whole cognitive process as defined by BOLD signal modulation. By using this approach, the pattern of EEG-informed BOLD modulation provided improved characterization of the network involved than the fMRI-only analysis or the source reconstruction of the three ERPs; the latter techniques showing only two regions in common localized in the occipital lobe.
Large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging studies with diffusion imaging techniques are necessary to test and validate models of white matter neurophysiological processes that change in time, both in healthy and diseased brains. The predictive power of such longitudinal models will always be limited by the reproducibility of repeated measures acquired during different sessions. At present, there is limited quantitative knowledge about the across-session reproducibility of standard diffusion metrics in 3T multi-centric studies on subjects in stable conditions, in particular when using tract based spatial statistics and with elderly people. In this study we implemented a multi-site brain diffusion protocol in 10 clinical 3T MRI sites distributed across 4 countries in Europe (Italy, Germany, France and Greece) using vendor provided sequences from Siemens (Allegra, Trio Tim, Verio, Skyra, Biograph mMR), Philips (Achieva) and GE (HDxt) scanners. We acquired DTI data (2 × 2 × 2 mm(3), b = 700 s/mm(2), 5 b0 and 30 diffusion weighted volumes) of a group of healthy stable elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) in two separate sessions at least a week apart. For each subject and session four scalar diffusion metrics were considered: fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) and axial (AD) diffusivity. The diffusion metrics from multiple subjects and sessions at each site were aligned to their common white matter skeleton using tract-based spatial statistics. The reproducibility at each MRI site was examined by looking at group averages of absolute changes relative to the mean (%) on various parameters: i) reproducibility of the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the b0 images in centrum semiovale, ii) full brain test-retest differences of the diffusion metric maps on the white matter skeleton, iii) reproducibility of the diffusion metrics on atlas-based white matter ROIs on the white matter skeleton. Despite the differences of MRI scanner configurations across sites (vendors, models, RF coils and acquisition sequences) we found good and consistent test-retest reproducibility. White matter b0 SNR reproducibility was on average 7 ± 1% with no significant MRI site effects. Whole brain analysis resulted in no significant test-retest differences at any of the sites with any of the DTI metrics. The atlas-based ROI analysis showed that the mean reproducibility errors largely remained in the 2-4% range for FA and AD and 2-6% for MD and RD, averaged across ROIs. Our results show reproducibility values comparable to those reported in studies using a smaller number of MRI scanners, slightly different DTI protocols and mostly younger populations. We therefore show that the acquisition and analysis protocols used are appropriate for multi-site experimental scenarios.
To propose a fast and robust acquisition and post-processing pipeline that is time-compatible with clinical explorations to obtain a proton density (?) map used as a reference for metabolic map normalization. This allows inter-subject and inter-group comparisons of magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) data and longitudinal follow-up for single subjects.
A novel characterization of Clinically Isolated Syndrome (CIS) patients according to lesion patterns is proposed. More specifically, patients are classified according to the nature of inflammatory lesions patterns. It is expected that this characterization can infer new prospective figures from the earliest imaging signs of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), since it can provide a classification of different types of lesions across patients.
Our goal was to build a probabilistic atlas and anatomical template of the human cervical and thoracic spinal cord (SC) that could be used for segmentation algorithm improvement, parametric group studies, and enrichment of biomechanical modelling.
Amnesic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is a heterogeneous syndrome that could be subdivided into distinct neuropsychological variants. To investigate relationships between the neuropsychological profile of memory impairment at baseline and the neuroimaging pattern of grey matter (GM) loss over 18 months, we performed a prospective volumetric brain study on 31 aMCI patients and 29 matched controls. All subjects were tested at baseline using a standardized neuropsychological battery, which included the Free and Cued Selective Recall Reminding Test (FCSRT) for the assessment of verbal declarative memory. Over 18 months, patients with impaired free recall but normal total recall (high index of cueing) on the FCSRT developed subcortical and frontal GM loss, while patients with impaired free and total recall (low index of cueing) developed GM atrophy within the left anterior and lateral temporal lobe. In summary, cued recall deficits are associated with a progression of atrophy that closely parallels the spatiotemporal distribution of neurofibrillary degeneration in early Alzheimers disease (AD), indicating possible AD pathological changes.
Large-scale longitudinal multi-site MRI brain morphometry studies are becoming increasingly crucial to characterize both normal and clinical population groups using fully automated segmentation tools. The test-retest reproducibility of morphometry data acquired across multiple scanning sessions, and for different MR vendors, is an important reliability indicator since it defines the sensitivity of a protocol to detect longitudinal effects in a consortium. There is very limited knowledge about how across-session reliability of morphometry estimates might be affected by different 3T MRI systems. Moreover, there is a need for optimal acquisition and analysis protocols in order to reduce sample sizes. A recent study has shown that the longitudinal FreeSurfer segmentation offers improved within session test-retest reproducibility relative to the cross-sectional segmentation at one 3T site using a nonstandard multi-echo MPRAGE sequence. In this study we implement a multi-site 3T MRI morphometry protocol based on vendor provided T1 structural sequences from different vendors (3D MPRAGE on Siemens and Philips, 3D IR-SPGR on GE) implemented in 8 sites located in 4 European countries. The protocols used mild acceleration factors (1.5-2) when possible. We acquired across-session test-retest structural data of a group of healthy elderly subjects (5 subjects per site) and compared the across-session reproducibility of two full-brain automated segmentation methods based on either longitudinal or cross-sectional FreeSurfer processing. The segmentations include cortical thickness, intracranial, ventricle and subcortical volumes. Reproducibility is evaluated as absolute changes relative to the mean (%), Dice coefficient for volume overlap and intraclass correlation coefficients across two sessions. We found that this acquisition and analysis protocol gives comparable reproducibility results to previous studies that used longer acquisitions without acceleration. We also show that the longitudinal processing is systematically more reliable across sites regardless of MRI system differences. The reproducibility errors of the longitudinal segmentations are on average approximately half of those obtained with the cross sectional analysis for all volume segmentations and for entorhinal cortical thickness. No significant differences in reliability are found between the segmentation methods for the other cortical thickness estimates. The average of two MPRAGE volumes acquired within each test-retest session did not systematically improve the across-session reproducibility of morphometry estimates. Our results extend those from previous studies that showed improved reliability of the longitudinal analysis at single sites and/or with non-standard acquisition methods. The multi-site acquisition and analysis protocol presented here is promising for clinical applications since it allows for smaller sample sizes per MRI site or shorter trials in studies evaluating the role of potential biomarkers to predict disease progression or treatment effects.
Previous studies have demonstrated that intrathecal synthesis of IgM is observed in multiple sclerosis (MS) and correlates with a worse disease course. These results suggest that IgM participates in the formation of MS lesions.
We demonstrate for the first time the ability to determine in vivo and in utero the transitions between the main stages of white matter (WM) maturation in normal human fetuses using magnetic resonance diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography. Biophysical characteristics of water motion are used as an indirect probe to evaluate progression of the tissue matrix organization in cortico-spinal tracts (CSTs), optic radiations (OR), and corpus callosum (CC) in 17 normal human fetuses explored between 23 and 38 weeks of gestation (GW) and selected strictly on minimal motion artifacts. Nonlinear polynomial (third order) curve fittings of normalized longitudinal and radial water diffusivities (Z-scores) as a function of age identify three different phases of maturation with specific dynamics for each WM bundle type. These phases may correspond to distinct cellular events such as axonal organization, myelination gliosis, and myelination, previously reported by other groups on post-mortem fetuses using immunostaining methods. According to the DTI parameter dynamics, we suggest that myelination (phase 3) appears early in the CSTs, followed by the OR and by the CC, respectively. DTI tractography provides access to a better understanding of fetal WM maturation.
The aim of the study was to assess the prevalence, the distribution and the impact on disability of grey matter (GM) pathology in early multiple sclerosis. Eighty-eight patients with a clinically isolated syndrome with a high risk developing multiple sclerosis were included in the study. Forty-four healthy controls constituted the normative population. An optimized statistical mapping analysis was performed to compare each subjects GM Magnetization Transfer Ratio (MTR) imaging maps with those of the whole group of controls. The statistical threshold of significant GM MTR decrease was determined as the maximum p value (p<0.05 FDR) for which no significant cluster survived when comparing each control to the whole control population. Using this threshold, 51% of patients showed GM abnormalities compared to controls. Locally, 37% of patients presented abnormalities inside the limbic cortex, 34% in the temporal cortex, 32% in the deep grey matter, 30% in the cerebellum, 30% in the frontal cortex, 26% in the occipital cortex and 19% in the parietal cortex. Stepwise regression analysis evidenced significant association (p?=?0.002) between EDSS and both GM pathology (p?=?0.028) and T2 white matter lesions load (p?=?0.019). In the present study, we evidenced that individual analysis of GM MTR map allowed demonstrating that GM pathology is highly heterogeneous across patients at the early stage of MS and partly underlies irreversible disability.
In this study, we aimed to demonstrate whether spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal derived from resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) reflect spontaneous neuronal activity in pathological brain regions as well as in regions spared by epileptiform discharges. This is a crucial issue as coherent fluctuations of fMRI signals between remote brain areas are now widely used to define functional connectivity in physiology and in pathophysiology. We quantified functional connectivity using non-linear measures of cross-correlation between signals obtained from intracerebral EEG (iEEG) and resting-state functional MRI (fMRI) in 5 patients suffering from intractable temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Functional connectivity was quantified with both modalities in areas exhibiting different electrophysiological states (epileptic and non affected regions) during the interictal period. Functional connectivity as measured from the iEEG signal was higher in regions affected by electrical epileptiform abnormalities relative to non-affected areas, whereas an opposite pattern was found for functional connectivity measured from the BOLD signal. Significant negative correlations were found between the functional connectivities of iEEG and BOLD signal when considering all pairs of signals (theta, alpha, beta and broadband) and when considering pairs of signals in regions spared by epileptiform discharges (in broadband signal). This suggests differential effects of epileptic phenomena on electrophysiological and hemodynamic signals and/or an alteration of the neurovascular coupling secondary to pathological plasticity in TLE even in regions spared by epileptiform discharges. In addition, indices of directionality calculated from both modalities were consistent showing that the epileptogenic regions exert a significant influence onto the non epileptic areas during the interictal period. This study shows that functional connectivity measured by iEEG and BOLD signals give complementary but sometimes inconsistent information in TLE.
Performance in recognition memory differs among patients with medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). We aimed to determine if distinct recognition performances (normal vs. impaired) could be related to distinct patterns of brain activation during encoding.
The impact of lesion location on cognitive functioning was assessed in a group of 97 patients with a clinically isolated syndrome. Using the Brief Repeatable Battery, we evidenced that 24% of patients showed at least one abnormal test, 20% at least two and 15% at least three. Verbal learning performances were inversely associated with presence of lesions in Brocas area, in the right frontal lobe and in the splenium while spatial learning performances were inversely correlated to the presence of lesions in the deep white matter. No associations were evidenced between lesion location and performance of tasks exploring attention and executive functions.
Development of surrogate markers is necessary to assess the potential efficacy of new therapeutics in Niemann-Pick Disease Type C (NP-C). In the present study, magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) imaging, a quantitative MRI imaging technique sensitive to subtle brain microstructural changes, was applied in two patients suffering from adult NP-C. Statistical mapping analysis was performed to compare each patients MTR maps with those of a group of 34 healthy controls to quantify and localize the extent of brain injury of each patient. Using this method, pathological changes were evidenced in the cerebellum, the thalami and the lenticular nuclei in both patients and also in the fronto-temporal cortices in the patient with the worse functional deficit. In addition, white matter changes were located in the midbrain, the cerebellum and the fronto-temporal lobes in the patient with the higher level of disability and in only one limited periventricular white matter region in the other patient. A 6-month follow-up was performed in the patient with the lower functional deficit and evidenced significant extension of grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) injuries during the following period (14% of increased injury for GM and 53% for WM). This study demonstrates that significant brain injury related to clinical deficit can be assessed in vivo in adult NP-C using MTR imaging. Although preliminary, these findings suggest that MTR imaging may be a relevant candidate for the development of biomarker in NP-C.
Spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at rest, exhibit a temporally coherent activity thought to reflect functionally relevant networks. Antero-mesial temporal structures are the site of early pathological changes in Alzheimers disease and have been shown to be critical for declarative memory. Our study aimed at exploring the functional impact of basal connectivity of an anterior temporal network (ATN) on declarative memory. A heterogeneous group of subjects with varying performance on tasks assessing memory was therefore selected, including healthy subjects and patients with isolated memory complaint, amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment (aMCI) and mild Alzheimers disease (AD). Using Independent Component Analysis on resting-state fMRI, we extracted a relevant anterior temporal network (ATN) composed of the perirhinal and entorhinal cortex, the hippocampal head, the amygdala and the lateral temporal cortex extending to the temporal pole. A default mode network and an executive-control network were also selected to serve as control networks. We first compared basal functional connectivity of the ATN between patients and control subjects. Relative to controls, patients exhibited significantly increased functional connectivity in the ATN during rest. Specifically, voxel-based analysis revealed an increase within the inferior and superior temporal gyrus and the uncus. In the patient group, positive correlations between averaged connectivity values of ATN and performance on anterograde and retrograde object-based memory tasks were observed, while no correlation was found with other evaluated cognitive measures. These correlations were specific to the ATN, as no correlation between performance on memory tasks and the other selected networks was found. Taken together, these findings provide evidence that basal connectivity inside the ATN network has a functional role in object-related, context-free memory. They also suggest that increased connectivity at rest within the ATN could reflect compensatory mechanisms that occur in response to early pathological insult.
Previous studies have demonstrated that cognitive impairment is already present in patients suffering from a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, little is known about the course of cognitive impairment after the occurrence of a CIS. In order to characterise the early evolution of cognitive impairment, the authors assessed during a 5-year follow-up period a group of 24 CIS patients with high risk of developing MS. Longitudinal neuropsychological assessment was performed at two time points (baseline and year 5) in patients and controls (baseline and year 1). At year 5, 54% of patients showed cognitive impairment against 29% at baseline. Multiple regression models showed that patients with a higher T(2) lesion load at baseline had a higher cognitive impairment at year 5. This longitudinal study performed in CIS patients showed that the frequency of cognitive impairment increases dramatically during the first 5 years following a CIS and that the cognitive status at year 5 was predictable by conventional MRI parameters recorded at baseline.
Brain neuronal injury is present in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) from the earliest stage of the disease; however, the functional counterpart of early neuronal injury is largely unknown. The goal of this study was to assess the potential impact of early neuronal dysfunction affecting white matter (WM), grey matter (GM), or the cerebellum on cognitive deterioration and/or EDSS progression during the first 5 years of MS. Magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS) examinations and neuropsychological assessments were performed in 23 patients included after the first clinical attack of MS and 24 healthy controls. The same protocol was performed in patients after a follow-up of 5 years. Metabolic neuronal function was assessed in WM (splenium of corpus callosum), GM (dorsal posterior cingulate cortex), and the cerebellum by evaluating N-acetylaspartate (NAA) levels. During follow-up, 39% of patients showed cognitive deterioration and 43% showed a deterioration in their EDSS. Patients with cognitive deterioration had greater NAA level reductions during follow-up in the cerebellum (p = 0.003) and WM (p = 0.02) compared to patients without cognitive deterioration. In addition, patients with cognitive deterioration had higher progression of T2 lesion load (T2LL) during the follow-up period compared to patients without cognitive deterioration (p = 0.03). No differences between patients with and without EDSS progression in terms of NAA levels or T2LL were observed. The present longitudinal study found evidence that, during the first 5 years of MS, cognitive deterioration is associated with the progression of neuronal dysfunction and tissue injury as assessed by MRS and T2LL, respectively.
In multiple sclerosis (MS), it seems likely that the variability of the long-term disability might be partly due to the variability of the early gray matter (GM) injury. In the present study, we assessed the variability of GM injury in early MS, using a method designed to determine individual pathological GM patterns. Eighteen patients presenting with a clinically isolated syndrome and 24 healthy matched control subjects were included in this study. Patients were explored using a 1.5 Tesla MR scanner (Magnetom Vision Plus; Siemens). Brain MR protocol included magnetization transfer ratio imaging (MTR). Statistical mapping analyses were performed to compare each subjects GM MTR maps with those of the whole group of control subjects (SPM5). The statistical threshold was taken to be the maximum P value showing no significant cluster when any control individual was compared with the whole control population. GM abnormalities were observed in 83% of the patients, ranging in size from 0.3 to 125 cm(3). Among the patients with GM abnormalities, 87% had abnormalities located in the temporal cortex, 80% in the frontal cortex, 80% in the limbic cortex, 73% in the posterior fossa, 53% in the deep GM, 47% in the parietal cortex, and 47% in the occipital cortex. Individual statistical mapping of MTR data, which gives a quantitative assessment of individual GM lesions, demonstrates great variability of grey matter injury in the first stage of multiple sclerosis.
The authors aimed to determine the ability of resting-state functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) to lateralise/localise the epileptogenic zone in patients presenting with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) at the individual level.
While occurrence of motor cortical reorganization has been clearly demonstrated in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), it is not yet clear whether this cortical reorganization constitutes a response to cortico-spinal lesions or to more diffuse damage affecting the neuronal network involved in motor act preparation, or both. We proposed to investigate the changes in the activation pattern during a simple motor task devoid of cortico-spinal dysfunction occurring in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) suggestive of MS.
The existence of grey matter (GM) atrophy right after the first clinical event suggestive of multiple sclerosis (MS) remains controversial. The aim of this study was therefore to establish whether regional GM atrophy is already present in the earliest stage of MS assessing regional GM atrophy in a large group of patients.
A better understanding of interstructure relationship sustaining drug-resistant epileptogenic networks is crucial for surgical perspective and to better understand the consequences of epileptic processes on cognitive functions. We used resting-state fMRI to study basal functional connectivity within temporal lobes in medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) during interictal period. Two hundred consecutive single-shot GE-EPI acquisitions were acquired in 37 right-handed subjects (26 controls, eight patients presenting with left and three patients with right MTLE). For each hemisphere, normalized correlation coefficients were computed between pairs of time-course signals extracted from five regions involved in MTLE epileptogenic networks (Brodmann area 38, amygdala, entorhinal cortex (EC), anterior hippocampus (AntHip), and posterior hippocampus (PostHip)). In controls, an asymmetry was present with a global higher connectivity in the left temporal lobe. Relative to controls, the left MTLE group showed disruption of the left EC-AntHip link, and a trend of decreased connectivity of the left AntHip-PostHip link. In contrast, a trend of increased connectivity of the right AntHip-PostHip link was observed and was positively correlated to memory performance. At the individual level, seven out of the eight left MTLE patients showed decreased or disrupted functional connectivity. In this group, four patients with left TLE showed increased basal functional connectivity restricted to the right temporal lobe spared by seizures onset. A reverse pattern was observed at the individual level for patients with right TLE. This is the first demonstration of decreased basal functional connectivity within epileptogenic networks with concomitant contralateral increased connectivity possibly reflecting compensatory mechanisms.
Functional amnesia (FA) is characterized by an extensive retrograde memory loss in the absence of detectable structural brain damage. The two main hypotheses put forward to explain this disturbance involve a global retrieval deficit (affecting both pre- and post-onset memories) and a selective inability to explicitly retrieve pre-onset memories. Here, we extensively examined P.P., a patient with FA, with a view to obtaining additional insights into the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying this disorder. In Experiments 1 and 2, post-onset memories were assessed using tasks focusing on the state of consciousness associated with their retrieval. Although subtle deficits in the ability to recollect post-onset personal events were detected, P.P.s performances were normal when the encoding of the event was monitored in a laboratory setting. In Experiment 3, implicit recognition of pre-onset memories was tested using skin conductance responses. Results showed that P.P. responded implicitly to photographs of personal pre-onset events that were not explicitly recognized. In Experiment 4, designed to assess the patients ability to suppress newly acquired information, P.P. suppressed more items than controls. Additionally, while no grey matter loss was evidenced with voxel-based morphometry, magnetic resonance spectroscopy and magnetization transfer imaging showed significant metabolic and structural changes within the white matter of the right prefrontal lobe. In conclusion, our results suggest that FA may result from a combination between two processes, a "hypo-retrieval" of pre-onset memories, tentatively due to white matter tract damage, and a "hyper-suppression" mechanism, concomitantly preventing the retrieval of pre-onset memories.
Global neuronal workspace theory predicts that damage to long-distance white matter (WM) tracts should impair access to consciousness during the perception of brief stimuli. To address this issue, we studied visual backward masking in 18 patients at the very first clinical stage of multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease characterized by extensive WM damage, and in 18 matched healthy subjects. In our masking paradigm, the visibility of a digit stimulus increases non-linearly as a function of the interval duration between this target and a subsequent mask. In order to characterize quantitatively, for each subject, the transition between non-conscious and conscious perception of the stimulus, we used non-linear regression to fit a sigmoid curve to objective performance and subjective visibility reports as a function of target-mask delay. The delay corresponding to the inflexion point of the sigmoid, where visibility suddenly increases, was termed the "non-linear transition threshold" and used as a summary measure of masking efficiency. Objective and subjective non-linear transition thresholds were highly correlated across subjects in both groups, and were higher in patients compared to controls. In patients, variations in the non-linear transition threshold were inversely correlated to the Magnetization transfer ratio (MTR) values inside the right dorsolateral prefrontal WM, the right occipito-frontal fasciculus and the left cerebellum. This study provides clinical evidence of a relationship between impairments of conscious access and integrity of large WM bundles, particularly involving prefrontal cortex, as predicted by global neuronal workspace theory.
Cortical atrophy is correlated with the progression of neuropathological lesions within the medial temporal lobes (MTL) in Alzheimers disease (AD). Our aim was to determine which local and remote functional changes result from MTL volume loss at the predementia stage.
To quantify brain sodium accumulations and characterize for the first time the spatial location of sodium abnormalities at different stages of relapsing-remitting (RR) multiple sclerosis (MS) by using sodium 23 ((23)Na) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.
Study Design. Measurements of cervical and thoraco-lumbar human spinal cord (SC) geometry based on in vivo MRI and investigation of morphological "invariants".Objective. The current work aims at providing morphological features of the complete in vivo human normal spinal cord and at investigating possible "invariant" parameters that may serve as normative data for individualized study of SC injuries.Summary of Background Data. Few in vivo MR-based studies have described human SC morphology at the cervical level, and similar description of the entire SC only relies on post-mortem studies, which may be prone to atrophy biases. Moreover, large inter-individual variations currently limit the use of morphological metrics as reference for clinical applications or as modeling inputs.Methods. Absolute metrics of SC (transverse and antero-posterior diameters, anterior and posterior horns width, cross-sectional SC area and white matter percentage) were measured using semi-automatic segmentation of high resolution in vivo T2*-weighted transverse images acquired at 3T, at each SC level, on healthy young (N = 15) and older (N = 8) volunteers. Robustness of measurements, effects of subject, age, or sex, as well as comparison to previously published post mortem data were investigated using statistical analyses (Separate analysis of variance, Tukey-HSD, Bland-Altman). Normalized-to-C3 parameters were evaluated as invariants using a leave-one-out analysis. Spinal canal parameters were measured and occupation ratio (OR) border values were determined.Results. Metrics of SC morphology showed large intra- and inter-individual variations, up to 30% and 13% respectively in average. Sex had no influence except on posterior horns width (p<0.01). Age-related differences were observed for anteroposterior diameter and white matter percentage (p<0.05) and all postmortem metrics were significantly lower than in vivo values (p<0.001). In vivo normalized SC area and diameters appeared to be invariants (R>0.74, RMSE<10%) Finally, minimal and maximal OR were 0.2 and 0.6, respectively.Conclusion. This study presented morphological characteristics of the complete in vivo human spinal cord. Significant differences linked to age and postmortem state have been identified. Morphological "invariants" that could be used to accurately calculate the normally expected morphology, were also identified. These observations should benefit to biomechanical and spinal cord pathology studies.
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