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Neuroimage. 2000 Dec;12(6):640-56.

Validation of partial tissue segmentation of single-channel magnetic resonance images of the brain.

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Department of Neurology, Division of Behavioral Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Iowa College of Medicine, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1053, USA.


We describe and evaluate a practical, automated algorithm based on local statistical mixture modeling for segmenting single-channel, T1-weighted volumetric magnetic resonance images of the brain into gray matter, white matter, and cerebrospinal fluid. We employed a stereological sampling method to assess, prospectively, the performance of the method with respect to human experts on 10 normal T1-weighted brain scans acquired with a three-dimensional gradient echo pulse sequence. The overall kappa statistic for the concordance of the algorithm with the human experts was 0.806, while that among raters, excluding the algorithm, was 0.802. The algorithm had better agreement with the modal expert decision (kappa = 0.878). The algorithm could not be distinguished from the experts by this measure. We also validated the algorithm on a simulated MR scan of a digital brain phantom with known tissue composition. Global gray matter and white matter errors were 1% and <1%, respectively, and correlation coefficients with the underlying tissue model were 0.95 for gray matter, 0.98 for white matter, and 0.95 for cerebrospinal fluid. In both approaches to validation, we evaluated both local and global performance of the algorithm. Human experts generated slightly higher global gray matter proportion estimates on the test brain scans relative to the algorithm (3.7%) and on the simulated MR scan relative to the true tissue model (4.4%). The algorithm underestimated gray in some subcortical nuclei which contain admixed gray and white matter. We demonstrate the reliability of the method on individual 1 NEX data sets of the test subjects, and its insensitivity to the precise values of initial model parameters. The output of this algorithm is suitable for quantifying cerebral cortical tissue, using a commonly performed commercial pulse sequence.

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