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Recently, several magnetic resonance imaging contrast mechanisms have been shown to distinguish cortical substructure corresponding to selected cortical layers. Here, we investigate cortical layer and area differentiation by automatized unsupervised clustering of high-resolution diffusion MRI data. Several groups of adjacent layers could be distinguished in human primary motor and premotor cortex. We then used the signature of diffusion MRI signals along cortical depth as a criterion to detect area boundaries and find borders at which the signature changes abruptly. We validate our clustering results by histological analysis of the same tissue. These results confirm earlier studies which show that diffusion MRI can probe layer-specific intracortical fiber organization and, moreover, suggests that it contains enough information to automatically classify architecturally distinct cortical areas. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the automatic clustering approach and its appeal for MR-based cortical histology.

Original publication

DOI

10.3389/fnins.2016.00487

Type

Journal article

Journal

Front Neurosci

Publication Date

2016

Volume

10

Keywords

MR-based histology, cortical layers and areas, diffusion MRI, histological validation, ultra-high field MRI