Evaluation of voxel-based group-level analysis of diffusion tensor images using simulated brain lesions

Jaana Hiltunen*, Mika Seppä, Riitta Hari

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    We simulated brain lesions in mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA) images of healthy subjects to evaluate the performance of voxel-based analysis (VBA) with SPM2. We increased MD and decreased FA, simulating the most typical abnormalities in brain pathologies, in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), corticospinal tract (CST), and corpus callosum (CC). Lesion sizes varied from 10 to 400 voxels (10.5mm 3 each) and intensity changes from 10 to 100%. The VBA contained eddy current correction, spatial normalization, smoothing, and statistical analysis.The preprocessing steps changed the intensities of MD and FA lesions from the original values, and many lesions remained undetected. The detection thresholds varied between the three brain areas, and between MD and FA images. Although spatial smoothing often improved the sensitivity, it also markedly enlarged the estimated lesion sizes.Since conventional VBA preprocessing significantly affected the outcome and sensitivity of the method itself, the impact of analysis steps should be verified and considered before interpreting the findings. Our results provide insight into the sizes and intensity changes of lesions that can be detected with VBA applied to diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)377-386
    Number of pages10
    JournalNeuroscience Research
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI)
    • Fractional anisotropy
    • Group analysis
    • Mean diffusivity
    • SPM
    • Voxel-based analysis (VBA)

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