A Jones matrix formalism for simulating three-dimensional polarized light imaging of brain tissue

M. Menzel*, K. Michielsen, H. De Raedt, J. Reckfort, K. Amunts, M. Axer

*Corresponding author for this work

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    29 Citations (Scopus)


    The neuroimaging technique three-dimensional polarized light imaging (3D-PLI) provides a high-resolution reconstruction of nerve fibres in human post-mortem brains. The orientations of the fibres are derived from birefringence measurements of histological brain sections assuming that the nerve fibres-consisting of an axon and a surrounding myelin sheath-are uniaxial birefringent and that the measured optic axis is oriented in the direction of the nerve fibres (macroscopic model). Although experimental studies support this assumption, the molecular structure of the myelin sheath suggests that the birefringence of a nerve fibre can be described more precisely by multiple optic axes oriented radially around the fibre axis (microscopic model). In this paper, we compare the use of the macroscopic and the microscopic model for simulating 3D-PLI by means of the Jones matrix formalism. The simulations show that the macroscopic model ensures a reliable estimation of the fibre orientations as long as the polarimeter does not resolve structures smaller than the diameter of single fibres. In the case of fibre bundles, polarimeters with even higher resolutions can be used without losing reliability. When taking the myelin density into account, the derived fibre orientations are considerably improved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20150734
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
    Issue number111
    Publication statusPublished - 6-Oct-2015


    • polarized light imaging
    • nerve fibre architecture
    • optics
    • birefringence
    • Jones matrix calculus
    • computer simulation
    • MYELIN
    • SHEATH

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