Which NODDI implementation is nicest for diffusion MRI?

Robert I. Reid, Michael G. Kamykowski, Robel K. Gebre, Clifford R. Jack, Prashanthi Vemuri

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Background: Neurite Orientation Dispersion and Density Imaging (NODDI) is becoming increasingly common as multiband acceleration becomes available for clinical scanning, but fitting the model can be extremely slow. Since the release of the original MATLAB implementation in 2012, three alternatives have become popular: Accelerated Microstructure Imaging via Convex Optimization (AMICO), the Microstructure Diffusion Toolbox (MDT), and the CUDA Diffusion Modelling Toolbox (cuDIMOT). They accelerate fitting through reformulation and/or using GPUs, but the implementation differences raise the question of which approach is best. To our knowledge all previous comparisons lacked knowledge of the true values and used the original implementation as the nominally correct one, with in vivo data. We remedy that using simulations with known NODDI values, in addition to in vivo scans. Method: We created a software phantom with Neurite Density Index (NDI) values linearly increasing from 0.1 to 1.0 in x, Orientation Dispersion (ODI) from 0 to 1 in y, and Isotropic water Volume Fraction (ISOVF) from 0 to 0.9 in z. We simulated five scans using the ADNI3 advanced diffusion MRI protocol. The phantom had 20 voxels in each direction, and the fiber bundle principal direction randomly varied between the simulations. The simulations were fit by the original, AMICO, MDT, and cuDIMOT implementations, and root mean square errors were calculated as shown in Table 1. A discrepancy measure was also calculated using the brain voxels of three in vivo human scans acquired using the same protocol on a Siemens Prisma, substituting the original implementation’s values for the truth since the latter is unknown for in vivo scans. Result: cuDIMOT had the least error (for ODI < 0.8) and was fastest. The original implementation was a close second in accuracy but much slower. cuDIMOT’s ODI underestimation can be corrected with a transfer function in the noise-free case, but that approach fails with actual scans. Conclusion: The original or cuDIMOT implementations should be used, with cuDIMOT the favorite when at least one CUDA-capable GPU is available and the number of scans are large. Correcting cuDIMOT’s ODI underestimation using a different initialization or form of Dawson’s integral should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere066405
JournalAlzheimer's and Dementia
Issue numberS5
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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