Construction of a consistent high-definition spatio-temporal atlas of the developing brain using adaptive kernel regression

Ahmed Serag, Paul Aljabar, Gareth Ball, Serena J Counsell, James P Boardman, Mary A Rutherford, A David Edwards, Joseph V Hajnal, Daniel Rueckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

235 Citations (Scopus)


Medical imaging has shown that, during early development, the brain undergoes more changes in size, shape and appearance than at any other time in life. A better understanding of brain development requires a spatio-temporal atlas that characterizes the dynamic changes during this period. In this paper we present an approach for constructing a 4D atlas of the developing brain, between 28 and 44 weeks post-menstrual age at time of scan, using T1 and T2 weighted MR images from 204 premature neonates. The method used for the creation of the average 4D atlas utilizes non-rigid registration between all pairs of images to eliminate bias in the atlas toward any of the original images. In addition, kernel regression is used to produce age-dependent anatomical templates. A novelty in our approach is the use of a time-varying kernel width, to overcome the variations in the distribution of subjects at different ages. This leads to an atlas that retains a consistent level of detail at every time-point. Comparisons between the resulting atlas and atlases constructed using affine and non-rigid registration are presented. The resulting 4D atlas has greater anatomic definition than currently available 4D atlases created using various affine and non-rigid registration approaches, an important factor in improving registrations between the atlas and individual subjects. Also, the resulting 4D atlas can serve as a good representative of the population of interest as it reflects both global and local changes. The atlas is publicly available at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2255-2265
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


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