Integration of multimodal imaging data for investigation of brain development

Abstract : Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a fundamental tool for in vivo investigation of brain development in newborns, infants and children. It provides several quantitative parameters that reflect changes in tissue properties during development depending on different undergoing maturational processes. However, reliable evaluation of the white matter maturation is still an open question: on one side, none of these parameters can describe the whole complexity of the undergoing changes; on the other side, neither of them is specific to any particular developmental process or tissue property. Developing multiparametric approaches combining complementary information from different MRI parameters is expected to improve our understanding of brain development. In this PhD work, I present two examples of such approaches and demonstrate their relevancy for investigation of maturation across different white matter bundles. The first approach provides a global measure of maturation based on the Mahalanobis distance calculated from different MRI parameters (relaxation times T1 and T2, longitudinal and transverse diffusivities from Diffusion Tensor Imaging, DTI) in infants (3-21 weeks) and adults. This approach provides a better description of the asynchronous maturation across the bundles than univariate approaches. Furthermore, it allows estimating the relative maturational delays between the bundles. The second approach aims at quantifying myelination of brain tissues by calculating Myelin Water Fraction (MWF) in each image voxel. This approach is based on a 3-component tissue model, with each model component having specific relaxation characteristics that were pre-calibrated in three healthy adult subjects. This approach allows fast computing of the MWF maps from infant data and could reveal progression of the brain myelination. The robustness of this approach was further investigated using computer simulations. Another important issue for studying white matter development in children is bundles identification. In the last part of this work I also describe creation of a preliminary atlas of white matter structural connectivity in children aged 17-81 months. This atlas allows automatic extraction of the bundles from tractography datasets. This approach demonstrated its relevance for evaluation of regional maturation of normal white matter in children. Finally, in the last part of the manuscript I describe potential future applications of the previously developed methods to investigation of the white matter in cases of two specific pathologies: focal epilepsy and metachromatic leukodystrophy.
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Sofya Kulikova. Integration of multimodal imaging data for investigation of brain development. Neuroscience. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCB039⟩. ⟨tel-01230544⟩

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