The Laboratory of Mathematics in Imaging (LMI) is focused on the application of mathematical theory, analysis, modeling, and signal processing to medical imaging. Research projects within the group cover both novel theoretical contributions and translational clinical efforts. The research team combine strengths in computer science and mathematics with radiology, neuroscience, and novel MRI sequence developmentLearn more

Recent Publications

Image Registration to Compensate for EPI Distortion in Patients with Brain Tumors: An Evaluation of Tract-Specific Effects

Albi A, Meola A, Zhang F, Kahali P, Rigolo L, Tax CMW, Ciris PA, Essayed WI, Unadkat P, Norton I, et al. Image Registration to Compensate for EPI Distortion in Patients with Brain Tumors: An Evaluation of Tract-Specific Effects. J Neuroimaging. 2018.Abstract
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) provides preoperative maps of neurosurgical patients' white matter tracts, but these maps suffer from echo-planar imaging (EPI) distortions caused by magnetic field inhomogeneities. In clinical neurosurgical planning, these distortions are generally not corrected and thus contribute to the uncertainty of fiber tracking. Multiple image processing pipelines have been proposed for image-registration-based EPI distortion correction in healthy subjects. In this article, we perform the first comparison of such pipelines in neurosurgical patient data. METHODS: Five pipelines were tested in a retrospective clinical dMRI dataset of 9 patients with brain tumors. Pipelines differed in the choice of fixed and moving images and the similarity metric for image registration. Distortions were measured in two important tracts for neurosurgery, the arcuate fasciculus and corticospinal tracts. RESULTS: Significant differences in distortion estimates were found across processing pipelines. The most successful pipeline used dMRI baseline and T2-weighted images as inputs for distortion correction. This pipeline gave the most consistent distortion estimates across image resolutions and brain hemispheres. CONCLUSIONS: Quantitative results of mean tract distortions on the order of 1-2 mm are in line with other recent studies, supporting the potential need for distortion correction in neurosurgical planning. Novel results include significantly higher distortion estimates in the tumor hemisphere and greater effect of image resolution choice on results in the tumor hemisphere. Overall, this study demonstrates possible pitfalls and indicates that care should be taken when implementing EPI distortion correction in clinical settings.
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The Cortical Signature of Impaired Gesturing: Findings from Schizophrenia

Viher PV, Stegmayer K, Kubicki M, Karmacharya S, Lyall AE, Federspiel A, Vanbellingen T, Bohlhalter S, Wiest R, Strik W, et al. The Cortical Signature of Impaired Gesturing: Findings from Schizophrenia. Neuroimage Clin. 2017;17 :213-21.Abstract
Schizophrenia is characterized by deficits in gesturing that is important for nonverbal communication. Research in healthy participants and brain-damaged patients revealed a left-lateralized fronto-parieto-temporal network underlying gesture performance. First evidence from structural imaging studies in schizophrenia corroborates these results. However, as of yet, it is unclear if cortical thickness abnormalities contribute to impairments in gesture performance. We hypothesized that patients with deficits in gesture production show cortical thinning in 12 regions of interest (ROIs) of a gesture network relevant for gesture performance and recognition. Forty patients with schizophrenia and 41 healthy controls performed hand and finger gestures as either imitation or pantomime. Group differences in cortical thickness between patients with deficits, patients without deficits, and controls were explored using a multivariate analysis of covariance. In addition, the relationship between gesture recognition and cortical thickness was investigated. Patients with deficits in gesture production had reduced cortical thickness in eight ROIs, including the pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus, the superior and inferior parietal lobes, and the superior and middle temporal gyri. Gesture recognition correlated with cortical thickness in fewer, but mainly the same, ROIs within the patient sample. In conclusion, our results show that impaired gesture production and recognition in schizophrenia is associated with cortical thinning in distinct areas of the gesture network.
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Sex Differences in White Matter Alterations Following Repetitive Subconcussive Head Impacts in Collegiate Ice Hockey Players

Sollmann N, Echlin PS, Schultz V, Viher PV, Lyall AE, Tripodis Y, Kaufmann D, Hartl E, Kinzel P, Forwell LA, et al. Sex Differences in White Matter Alterations Following Repetitive Subconcussive Head Impacts in Collegiate Ice Hockey Players. Neuroimage Clin. 2017;17 :642-9.Abstract
Objective: Repetitive subconcussive head impacts (RSHI) may lead to structural, functional, and metabolic alterations of the brain. While differences between males and females have already been suggested following a concussion, whether there are sex differences following exposure to RSHI remains unknown. The aim of this study was to identify and to characterize sex differences following exposure to RSHI. Methods: Twenty-five collegiate ice hockey players (14 males and 11 females, 20.6 ± 2.0 years), all part of the Hockey Concussion Education Project (HCEP), underwent diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) before and after the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) ice hockey season 2011-2012 and did not experience a concussion during the season. Whole-brain tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) were used to compare pre- and postseason imaging in both sexes for fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD). Pre- and postseason neurocognitive performance were assessed by the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT). Results: Significant differences between the sexes were primarily located within the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), the internal capsule (IC), and the corona radiata (CR) of the right hemisphere (RH). In significant voxel clusters (p < 0.05), decreases in FA (absolute difference pre- vs. postseason: 0.0268) and increases in MD (0.0002), AD (0.00008), and RD (0.00005) were observed in females whereas males showed no significant changes. There was no significant correlation between the change in diffusion scalar measures over the course of the season and neurocognitive performance as evidenced from postseason ImPACT scores. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest sex differences in structural alterations following exposure to RSHI. Future studies need to investigate further the underlying mechanisms and association with exposure and clinical outcomes.
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Lobar Emphysema Distribution Is Associated With 5-Year Radiological Disease Progression

Boueiz A, Chang Y, Cho MH, Washko GR, San José Estépar R, Bowler RP, Crapo JD, DeMeo DL, Dy JG, Silverman EK, et al. Lobar Emphysema Distribution Is Associated With 5-Year Radiological Disease Progression. Chest. 2018;153 (1) :65-76.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Emphysema has considerable variability in its regional distribution. Craniocaudal emphysema distribution is an important predictor of the response to lung volume reduction. However, there is little consensus regarding how to define upper lobe-predominant and lower lobe-predominant emphysema subtypes. Consequently, the clinical and genetic associations with these subtypes are poorly characterized. METHODS: We sought to identify subgroups characterized by upper-lobe or lower-lobe emphysema predominance and comparable amounts of total emphysema by analyzing data from 9,210 smokers without alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency in the Genetic Epidemiology of COPD (COPDGene) cohort. CT densitometric emphysema was measured in each lung lobe. Random forest clustering was applied to lobar emphysema variables after regressing out the effects of total emphysema. Clusters were tested for association with clinical and imaging outcomes at baseline and at 5-year follow-up. Their associations with genetic variants were also compared. RESULTS: Three clusters were identified: minimal emphysema (n = 1,312), upper lobe-predominant emphysema (n = 905), and lower lobe-predominant emphysema (n = 796). Despite a similar amount of total emphysema, the lower-lobe group had more severe airflow obstruction at baseline and higher rates of metabolic syndrome compared with subjects with upper-lobe predominance. The group with upper-lobe predominance had greater 5-year progression of emphysema, gas trapping, and dyspnea. Differential associations with known COPD genetic risk variants were noted. CONCLUSIONS: Subgroups of smokers defined by upper-lobe or lower-lobe emphysema predominance exhibit different functional and radiological disease progression rates, and the upper-lobe predominant subtype shows evidence of association with known COPD genetic risk variants. These subgroups may be useful in the development of personalized treatments for COPD.
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Reduced Structural Connectivity in Frontostriatal White Matter Tracts in the Associative Loop in Schizophrenia

Levitt JJ, Nestor PG, Levin L, Pelavin P, Lin P, Kubicki M, McCarley RW, Shenton ME, Rathi Y. Reduced Structural Connectivity in Frontostriatal White Matter Tracts in the Associative Loop in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2017;174 (11) :1102-1111.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: The striatum receives segregated and integrative white matter tracts from the cortex facilitating information processing in the cortico-basal ganglia network. The authors examined both types of input tracts in the striatal associative loop in chronic schizophrenia patients and healthy control subjects. METHOD: Structural and diffusion MRI scans were acquired on a 3-T system from 26 chronic schizophrenia patients and 26 matched healthy control subjects. Using FreeSurfer, the associative cortex was parcellated into ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex subregions. The striatum was manually parcellated into its associative and sensorimotor functional subregions. Fractional anisotropy and normalized streamlines, an estimate of fiber counts, were assessed in four frontostriatal tracts (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-associative striatum, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex-associative striatum, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum). Furthermore, these measures were correlated with a measure of cognitive control, the Trail-Making Test, Part B. RESULTS: Results showed reduced fractional anisotropy and fewer streamlines in chronic schizophrenia patients for all four tracts, both segregated and integrative. Post hoc t tests showed reduced fractional anisotropy in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex-associative striatum and left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum and fewer normalized streamlines in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum and in the left and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum in chronic schizophrenia patients. Furthermore, normalized streamlines in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum negatively correlated with Trail-Making Test, Part B, time spent in healthy control subjects but not in chronic schizophrenia patients. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrated that structural connectivity is reduced in both segregated and integrative tracts in the striatal associative loop in chronic schizophrenia and that reduced normalized streamlines in the right-hemisphere dorsolateral prefrontal cortex-sensorimotor striatum predicted worse cognitive control in healthy control subjects but not in chronic schizophrenia patients, suggesting a loss of a "normal" brain-behavior correlation in chronic schizophrenia.
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Quantification of the Intracellular Life Time of Water Molecules to Measure Transport Rates of Human Aquaglyceroporins

Palmgren M, Hernebring M, Eriksson S, Elbing K, Geijer C, Lasič S, Dahl P, Hansen JS, Topgaard D, Lindkvist-Petersson K. Quantification of the Intracellular Life Time of Water Molecules to Measure Transport Rates of Human Aquaglyceroporins. J Membr Biol. 2017;250 (6) :629-639.Abstract
Orthodox aquaporins are transmembrane channel proteins that facilitate rapid diffusion of water, while aquaglyceroporins facilitate the diffusion of small uncharged molecules such as glycerol and arsenic trioxide. Aquaglyceroporins play important roles in human physiology, in particular for glycerol metabolism and arsenic detoxification. We have developed a unique system applying the strain of the yeast Pichia pastoris, where the endogenous aquaporins/aquaglyceroporins have been removed and human aquaglyceroporins AQP3, AQP7, and AQP9 are recombinantly expressed enabling comparative permeability measurements between the expressed proteins. Using a newly established Nuclear Magnetic Resonance approach based on measurement of the intracellular life time of water, we propose that human aquaglyceroporins are poor facilitators of water and that the water transport efficiency is similar to that of passive diffusion across native cell membranes. This is distinctly different from glycerol and arsenic trioxide, where high glycerol transport efficiency was recorded.
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