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PLoS One. 2009 Sep 29;4(9):e7200. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007200.

The brain atlas concordance problem: quantitative comparison of anatomical parcellations.

Author information

  • 1Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, United States of America. jbohland@bu.edu

Abstract

Many neuroscientific reports reference discrete macro-anatomical regions of the brain which were delineated according to a brain atlas or parcellation protocol. Currently, however, no widely accepted standards exist for partitioning the cortex and subcortical structures, or for assigning labels to the resulting regions, and many procedures are being actively used. Previous attempts to reconcile neuroanatomical nomenclatures have been largely qualitative, focusing on the development of thesauri or simple semantic mappings between terms. Here we take a fundamentally different approach, discounting the names of regions and instead comparing their definitions as spatial entities in an effort to provide more precise quantitative mappings between anatomical entities as defined by different atlases. We develop an analytical framework for studying this brain atlas concordance problem, and apply these methods in a comparison of eight diverse labeling methods used by the neuroimaging community. These analyses result in conditional probabilities that enable mapping between regions across atlases, which also form the input to graph-based methods for extracting higher-order relationships between sets of regions and to procedures for assessing the global similarity between different parcellations of the same brain. At a global scale, the overall results demonstrate a considerable lack of concordance between available parcellation schemes, falling within chance levels for some atlas pairs. At a finer level, this study reveals spatial relationships between sets of defined regions that are not obviously apparent; these are of high potential interest to researchers faced with the challenge of comparing results that were based on these different anatomical models, particularly when coordinate-based data are not available. The complexity of the spatial overlap patterns revealed points to problems for attempts to reconcile anatomical parcellations and nomenclatures using strictly qualitative and/or categorical methods. Detailed results from this study are made available via an interactive web site at http://obart.info.

PMID:
19787067
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2748707
Free PMC Article

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