A Bayesian approach to the creation of a study-customized neonatal brain atlas

Yajing Zhang, Linda Chang, Can Ceritoglu, Jon Skranes, Thomas Ernst, Susumu Mori, Michael I. Miller, Kenichi Oishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Atlas-based image analysis (ABA), in which an anatomical "parcellation map" is used for parcel-by-parcel image quantification, is widely used to analyze anatomical and functional changes related to brain development, aging, and various diseases. The parcellation maps are often created based on common MRI templates, which allow users to transform the template to target images, or vice versa, to perform parcel-by-parcel statistics, and report the scientific findings based on common anatomical parcels. The use of a study-specific template, which represents the anatomical features of the study population better than common templates, is preferable for accurate anatomical labeling; however, the creation of a parcellation map for a study-specific template is extremely labor intensive, and the definitions of anatomical boundaries are not necessarily compatible with those of the common template. In this study, we employed a volume-based template estimation (VTE) method to create a neonatal brain template customized to a study population, while keeping the anatomical parcellation identical to that of a common MRI atlas. The VTE was used to morph the standardized parcellation map of the JHU-neonate-SS atlas to capture the anatomical features of a study population. The resultant "study-customized" T1-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) template, with three-dimensional anatomical parcellation that defined 122 brain regions, was compared with the JHU-neonate-SS atlas, in terms of the registration accuracy. A pronounced increase in the accuracy of cortical parcellation and superior tensor alignment were observed when the customized template was used. With the customized atlas-based analysis, the fractional anisotropy (FA) detected closely approximated the manual measurements. This tool provides a solution for achieving normalization-based measurements with increased accuracy, while reporting scientific findings in a consistent framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-267
Number of pages12
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Customized atlas
  • MRI
  • Neonatal brain atlas
  • Registration accuracy
  • Volume-based template estimation (VTE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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