Diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (DT-MRI) is capable of providing quantitative insights into tissue microstructure in the brain. An important piece of information offered by DT-MRI is the directional preference of diffusing water molecules within a voxel. Building upon this local directional information, DT-MRI tractography attempts to construct global connectivity of white matter tracts. The interplay between local directional information and global structural information is crucial in understanding changes in tissue microstructure as well as in white matter tracts. To this end, the right circular cone of uncertainty was proposed by Basser as a local measure of tract dispersion. Recent experimental observations by Jeong et al. and Lazar et al. that the cones of uncertainty in the brain are mostly elliptical motivate the present study to investigate analytical approaches to quantify their findings. Two analytical approaches for constructing the elliptical cone of uncertainty, based on the first-order matrix perturbation and the error propagation method via diffusion tensor representations, are presented and their theoretical equivalence is established. We propose two normalized measures, circumferential and areal, to quantify the uncertainty of the major eigenvector of the diffusion tensor. We also describe a new technique of visualizing the cone of uncertainty in 3-D.
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