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The white matter is a complex network of brain fibers connecting different information processing regions in the brain. In recent years, the investigation of white matter in humans and in animal models has greatly benefitted from the introduction of in vivo noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. MRI allows for multiple in vivo time-point whole-brain acquisition in the same subject, thus it can be used longitudinally to monitor white matter brain change, intervention effects, as well as disease progression. However, MRI has low spatial resolution compared to gold standard cellular techniques and MRI measures are sensitive to a number of tissue properties resulting in a lack of specificity.The following chapter describes in simple technical terms to non-imaging experts some common MRI techniques that can be used to investigate white matter structure noninvasively, covering some of the advantages and pitfalls of each technique.

Original publication





Publication Date





397 - 407


NDCN Department, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, FMRIB Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Humans, Disease Progression, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, White Matter