Courtesy of Dr Gordon Waiter and Prof Wen-Yih Isaac Tseng of National Taiwan University, this image depicts 76 brain white matter tracts for which a generalized fractional anisotropy (GFA) diffusion index was obtained using tract-based automatic analysis of MRI data from a sample of more than 7,100 participants in the UK Biobank study.  White matter tract integrity was found to display differential age-related changes in this group of generally healthy middle-aged and older adults. The slopes of GFA change showed the most marked decrease in integrity with age [colour-coded blue] for tracts including the right uncinate fasciculus, right superior longitudinal fasciculus, bilateral inferior fronto-occipital fasciculi, bilateral fornices and stria terminalis, and the callosal fibers connecting bilateral prefrontal lobes and hippocampi. Unexpectedly, the anterior commissure showed increased integrity with age [colour-coded red], and the corticospinal tracts were found to be least affected by ageing.

This large-scale analysis of age-related changes in brain white matter tracts is the product of an ongoing international partnership between SINAPSE researchers in Scotland and image analysis experts in Taiwan who have developed the tract-based automatic analysis (TBAA) technique for diffusion MRI data analysis. The collaborative project applying TBAA to UK Biobank data follows an exchange visit to Taiwan by Dr Waiter and Dr David Dickie in May 2016, and then a return exchange visit to Scotland in September 2017 for the researchers from Prof Tseng’s lab.  Exchange visits were funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), Taiwan, and the Roland Sutton Academic Trust awarded funding for the use of high performance computing facilities and data storage at the University of Aberdeen.


The image is taken from an abstract presented at the recent 2019 Organization for Human Brain Mapping Annual Meeting held in Rome, Italy:

Waiter G, Hsu Y-C, Kang Y-J, Kao T-W, Chang-Le C, Chen P-Y, Tseng W-Y. Microstructural changes of white matter tracts across late lifespan on 7,167 UK Biobank participants. Poster No: T371.