The Diffusion-Simulated Connectivity (DiSCo) Dataset

Jonathan Rafael-Patino, Gabriel Girard, Raphal Truffet, Marco Pizzolato, Emmanuel Caruyer, Jean-Philippe Thiran

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The methodological development in the mapping of the brain structural connectome from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) has raised many hopes in the neuroscientific community. Indeed, the knowledge of the connections between different brain regions is fundamental to study brain anatomy and function. The reliability of the structural connectome is therefore of paramount importance. In the search for accuracy, researchers have given particular attention to linking white matter tractography methods – used for estimating the connectome – with information about the microstructure of the nervous tissue. The creation and validation of methods in this context were hampered by a lack of practical numerical phantoms. To achieve this, we created a numerical phantom that mimics complex anatomical fibre pathway trajectories while also accounting for microstructural features such as axonal diameter distribution, myelin presence, and variable packing densities. The substrate has a micrometric resolution and an unprecedented size of 1 cubic millimetre to mimic an image acquisition matrix of 40x40x40 voxels. DW-MRI images were obtained from Monte Carlo simulations of spin dynamics to enable the validation of quantitative tractography. The phantom is composed of 12,196 synthetic tubular fibres with diameters ranging from 1.4 µm to 4.2 µm, interconnecting sixteen regions of interest. The simulated images capture the microscopic properties of the tissue (e.g. fibre diameter, water diffusing within and around fibres, free water compartment), while also having desirable macroscopic properties resembling the anatomy, such as the smoothness of the fibre trajectories. While previous phantoms were used to validate either tractography or microstructure, this phantom can enable a better assessment of the connectome estimation’s reliability on the one side, and its adherence to the actual microstructure of the nervous tissue on the other.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107429
JournalData in Brief
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Diffusion MRI
  • Monte Carlo
  • Simulation
  • Numerical Phantom
  • Structural Connectivity
  • Tractography
  • Microstructure


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