Mapping Brain Connectivity with High Definition Fiber Tracking

Psych 2476 Spring 2010 CRN 33470

Instructors Walter Schneider, Sudhir Pathak, Juan Fernandez-Miranda,

Jeff Phillips, Tim Verstynen


Of interest to graduate students, staff, and advanced undergraduates interested in mapping/quantifying anatomical connections of the human brain. This is a project course and students will seek to map new circuits in the brain using a new technology, High Definition Fiber Tracking, developed in Pittsburgh. The goal is to during the course find new features or effective techniques about brain systems see


Course outline in brief

  High definition Fiber Tracking MRI non-invasive MRI mapping of 250,000 tracts per person with high reliability

  Human brain neuroanatomy based on dissection and HDFT methods: mapping major tracts, area boundaries, following circuits.

  Interrelating functional activity, resting state, volumetric, surface spaces

  Developmental brain growth and tract structure

  White matter disease and pathology identification

  Tools for analyzing HDFT data: processing streams, graphical visualization, automated data mining of cortical circuits DSI Studio, TrackVis, FreeSurfer

  Braincrawler tool that can crawl over cortex making connective topology

  Tract segmentation, area segmentation, quantification of connectivity, statistical assessment, human Connectome mapping.

  Group and individual projects mapping brain systems


Course description

This course covers use of a novel Pittsburgh-developed High Definition Fiber Tracking (HDFT) technology providing human brain connectivity with unprecedented fidelity. The technology maps 250,000+ tracts per person (50 miles of tracts from within the head) from source to destination, mapping tract bundles and termination contact surfaces of the tissue (e.g., cortical mantle, thalamus, hippocampus). The fibers can be visualized and quantified allowing the first reliable quantification of degree of connectivity in many circuits. These techniques will advance the study of brain systems, disorders, development, neuropathology, and neurosurgery. Students will perform projects analyzing collected data on 4 individuals or developing new analysis methods. Students will be encouraged to work individually or in groups to do publication-level neuroanatomy or methodological development projects in the course. Sample projects might include mapping a sensory system, affect system, motor body positions, between-species agreement (human/primate), developmental assessment, or automated brain segmentation and circuit tracing. The class will meet Thursday 3-6PM in Old Engineering Hall for both lectures and laboratory projects. Students must have some statistics and research experience/course work and consent of the instructor. For additional details see


Mapping brain in diffusion of voxels, fiber tracts, and brain areas

Major Fiber Tracts of the Human Brain mapped with HDFT

Fiber Quantification and Mapping of Between Area Connectivity

Example use in Surgical Planning