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Med Image Anal. 2005 Oct;9(5):457-66.

Automatic segmentation of MR images of the developing newborn brain.

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Department of Computer Science, University of North Carolina, CB #3175 Sitterson Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


This paper describes an automatic tissue segmentation method for newborn brains from magnetic resonance images (MRI). The analysis and study of newborn brain MRI is of great interest due to its potential for studying early growth patterns and morphological changes in neurodevelopmental disorders. Automatic segmentation of newborn MRI is a challenging task mainly due to the low intensity contrast and the growth process of the white matter tissue. Newborn white matter tissue undergoes a rapid myelination process, where the nerves are covered in myelin sheathes. It is necessary to identify the white matter tissue as myelinated or non-myelinated regions. The degree of myelination is a fractional voxel property that represents regional changes of white matter as a function of age. Our method makes use of a registered probabilistic brain atlas. The method first uses robust graph clustering and parameter estimation to find the initial intensity distributions. The distribution estimates are then used together with the spatial priors to perform bias correction. Finally, the method refines the segmentation using training sample pruning and non-parametric kernel density estimation. Our results demonstrate that the method is able to segment the brain tissue and identify myelinated and non-myelinated white matter regions.

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