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Real anatomy or illusion? Tractography put to the test

Speaker: Dr Flavio Dell'Acqua - NatBrainLab, King's College London, UK

Investigating the connectivity of the human brain is one of the most challenging tasks of neuroscience. Developing and applying novel techniques to visualize and study large brain networks is essential to achieve a complete reconstruction of the human brain connectome.

Today the ability the reproduce three-dimensional trajectories of white matter connections in the living human brain is a unique feature of MR diffusion tractography. Whole brain tractography approaches combined with network analysis tools are currently in development and may offer in the future a new way to investigate connectivity in the healthy and pathological brain. However, all structural connectivity results strongly rely on the anatomical accuracy of tractography methods and their ability to describe correctly white matter trajectories between distant cortical regions. Limitations of current tractography algorithms can be an important bias for the final results. New methods are now emerging at a very fast pace and they can offer new opportunities to better map connections in normal and pathological brain. Validation of all these methods remains an essential step before they can broadly applied in clinical and research applications.

Improving tractography methods further is the main goal that needs to be achieved to provide the solid foundations for definitive connectome mapping.

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