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Crystallinity characterization of white matter in the human brain

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Venkat Kapil.

White matter microstructure underpins cognition and function in the human brain through the facilitation of neuronal communication, and the non-invasive characterization of this structure remains an elusive goal in the neuroscience community. Efforts to assess white matter microstructure are hampered by the sheer amount of information needed for characterization. Current techniques address this problem by representing white matter features with single scalars that are often not easy to interpret. Here, we address these issues by introducing tools from soft matterfor the characterization of white matter microstructure. We investigate structure on a mesoscopic scale by analyzing its homogeneity and determining which regions of the brain are structurally homogeneous, or ``crystalline” in the context of materials science. We find that crystallinity is a reliable metric that varies across the brain along interpretable lines of anatomical difference. We also parcellate white matter into ``crystal grains,” or contiguous sets of voxels of high structural similarity, and find overlap with other white matter parcellations. Our results provide new means of assessing white matter microstructure on multiple length scales, and open new avenues of future inquiry.

This talk is part of the Lennard-Jones Centre series.

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