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Med Image Anal. 2011 Dec;15(6):814-29. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Morphological appearance manifolds for group-wise morphometric analysis.

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Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States.


Computational anatomy quantifies anatomical shape based on diffeomorphic transformations of a template. However, different templates warping algorithms, regularization parameters, or templates, lead to different representations of the same exact anatomy, raising a uniqueness issue: variations of these parameters are confounding factors as they give rise to non-unique representations. Recently, it has been shown that learning the equivalence class derived from the multitude of representations of a given anatomy can lead to improved and more stable morphological descriptors. Herein, we follow that approach, by approximating this equivalence class of morphological descriptors by a (nonlinear) morphological appearance manifold fitting to the data via a locally linear model. Our approach parallels work in the computer vision field, in which variations lighting, pose and other parameters lead to image appearance manifolds representing the exact same figure in different ways. The proposed framework is then used for group-wise registration and statistical analysis of biomedical images, by employing a minimum variance criterion to perform manifold-constrained optimization, i.e. to traverse each individual's morphological appearance manifold until group variance is minimal. The hypothesis is that this process is likely to reduce aforementioned confounding effects and potentially lead to morphological representations reflecting purely biological variations, instead of variations introduced by modeling assumptions and parameter settings.

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