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Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging: The coordinated use of multiple, mutually informative probes to understand brain structure and function



Differing imaging modalities provide unique channels of information to probe differing aspects of the brain's structural or functional organization. In combination, differing modalities provide complementary and mutually informative data about tissue organization that is more than their sum. We acquired and spatially coregistered data in four MRI modalities—anatomical MRI, functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)—from 20 healthy adults to understand how interindividual variability in measures from one modality account for variability in measures from other modalities at each voxel of the brain. We detected significant correlations of local volumes with the magnitude of functional activation, suggesting that underlying variation in local volumes contributes to individual variability in functional activation. We also detected significant inverse correlations of NAA (a putative measure of neuronal density and viability) with volumes of white matter in the frontal cortex, with DTI-based measures of tissue organization within the superior longitudinal fasciculus, and with the magnitude of functional activation and default-mode activity during simple visual and motor tasks, indicating that substantial variance in local volumes, white matter organization, and functional activation derives from an underlying variability in the number or density of neurons in those regions. Many of these imaging measures correlated with measures of intellectual ability within differing brain tissues and differing neural systems, demonstrating that the neural determinants of intellectual capacity involve numerous and disparate features of brain tissue organization, a conclusion that could be made with confidence only when imaging the same individuals with multiple MRI modalities. Hum Brain Mapp, 2013. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.