The visual white matter: The application of diffusion MRI and fiber tractography to vision science.
Rokem A., Takemura H., Bock AS., Scherf KS., Behrmann M., Wandell BA., Fine I., Bridge H., Pestilli F.
Visual neuroscience has traditionally focused much of its attention on understanding the response properties of single neurons or neuronal ensembles. The visual white matter and the long-range neuronal connections it supports are fundamental in establishing such neuronal response properties and visual function. This review article provides an introduction to measurements and methods to study the human visual white matter using diffusion MRI. These methods allow us to measure the microstructural and macrostructural properties of the white matter in living human individuals; they allow us to trace long-range connections between neurons in different parts of the visual system and to measure the biophysical properties of these connections. We also review a range of findings from recent studies on connections between different visual field maps, the effects of visual impairment on the white matter, and the properties underlying networks that process visual information supporting visual face recognition. Finally, we discuss a few promising directions for future studies. These include new methods for analysis of MRI data, open datasets that are becoming available to study brain connectivity and white matter properties, and open source software for the analysis of these data.