Generative sampling in tractography using autoencoders (GESTA)

by   Jon Haitz Legarreta, et al.

Current tractography methods use the local orientation information to propagate streamlines from seed locations. Many such seeds provide streamlines that stop prematurely or fail to map the true pathways because some white matter bundles are "harder-to-track" than others. This results in tractography reconstructions with poor white and gray matter spatial coverage. In this work, we propose a generative, autoencoder-based method, named GESTA (Generative Sampling in Tractography using Autoencoders), that produces streamlines with better spatial coverage. Compared to other deep learning methods, our autoencoder-based framework is not constrained by any prior or a fixed set of bundles. GESTA produces new and complete streamlines for any white matter bundle. GESTA is shown to be effective on both synthetic and human brain in vivo data. Our streamline evaluation framework ensures that the streamlines produced by GESTA are anatomically plausible and fit well to the local diffusion signal. The streamline evaluation criteria assess anatomy (white matter coverage), local orientation alignment (direction), geometry features of streamlines, and optionally, gray matter connectivity. The GESTA framework offers considerable gains in bundle coverage using a reduced set of seeding streamlines with a 1.5x improvement for the "Fiber Cup", and 6x for the ISMRM 2015 Tractography Challenge datasets. Similarly, it provides a 4x white matter volume increase on the BIL GIN callosal homotopic dataset. It also successfully generates new streamlines in poorly populated bundles, such as the fornix and other hard-to-track bundles, on in vivo data. GESTA is thus the first deep tractography generative method that can improve white matter reconstruction of hard-to-track bundles.


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