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  • Author or Editor: Heather S. Spader x
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Heather S. Spader, Anna Ellermeier, Jonathan O'Muircheartaigh, Douglas C. Dean III, Holly Dirks, Jerrold L. Boxerman, G. Rees Cosgrove and Sean C. L. Deoni

White matter development and myelination are critical processes in neurodevelopment. Myelinated white matter facilitates the rapid and coordinated brain messaging required for higher-order cognitive and behavioral processing. Whereas several neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis are associated with gross white matter damage and demyelination, other disorders such as epilepsy may involve altered myelination in the efferent or afferent white matter pathways adjoining epileptic foci. Current MRI techniques including T1 weighting, T2 weighting, FLAIR, diffusion tensor imaging, and MR spectroscopy permit visualization of gross white matter abnormalities and evaluation of underlying white matter fiber architecture and integrity, but they provide only qualitative information regarding myelin content. Quantification of these myelin changes could provide new insight into disease severity and prognosis, reveal information regarding spatial location of foci or lesions and the associated affected neural systems, and create a metric to evaluate treatment efficacy. Multicomponent analysis of T1 and T2 relaxation data, or multicomponent relaxometry (MCR), is a quantitative imaging technique that is sensitive and specific to myelin content alteration. In the past, MCR has been associated with lengthy imaging times, but a new, faster MCR technique (mcDESPOT) has made quantitative analysis of myelin content more accessible for clinical research applications. The authors briefly summarize traditional white matter imaging techniques, describe MCR and mcDESPOT, and discuss current and future clinical applications of MCR, with a particular focus on pediatric epilepsy.