A comparison of FreeSurfer-generated data with and without manual intervention

Christopher S. McCarthy, Avinash Ramprashad, Carlie Thompson, Jo Anna Botti, Ioana L. Coman, Wendy R. Kates

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    60 Scopus citations


    This paper examined whether FreeSurfer-generated data differed between a fully-automated, unedited pipeline and an edited pipeline that included the application of control points to correct errors in white matter segmentation. In a sample of 30 individuals, we compared the summary statistics of surface area, white matter volumes, and cortical thickness derived from edited and unedited datasets for the 34 regions of interest (ROIs) that FreeSurfer (FS) generates. To determine whether applying control points would alter the detection of significant differences between patient and typical groups, effect sizes between edited and unedited conditions in individuals with the genetic disorder, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) were compared to neurotypical controls. Analyses were conducted with data that were generated from both a 1.5 tesla and a 3 tesla scanner. For 1.5 tesla data, mean area, volume, and thickness measures did not differ significantly between edited and unedited regions, with the exception of rostral anterior cingulate thickness, lateral orbitofrontal white matter, superior parietal white matter, and precentral gyral thickness. Results were similar for surface area and white matter volumes generated from the 3 tesla scanner. For cortical thickness measures however, seven edited ROI measures, primarily in frontal and temporal regions, differed significantly from their unedited counterparts, and three additional ROI measures approached significance. Mean effect sizes for edited ROIs did not differ from most unedited ROIs for either 1.5 or 3 tesla data. Taken together, these results suggest that although the application of control points may increase the validity of intensity normalization and, ultimately, segmentation, it may not affect the final, extracted metrics that FS generates. Potential exceptions to and limitations of these conclusions are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number379
    JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
    Issue numberOCT
    StatePublished - 2015


    • Control points
    • FreeSurfer
    • Intensity normalization
    • Interactive
    • Semi-automatic
    • White matter edits

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Neuroscience(all)


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