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Deformation-based Morphometry of the Human Brain

Deformation-based morphometry is used to detect and measure structural differences between brains. The method is based on the analysis of magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) images. Image registration techniques are used to calculate so-called deformation fields, from which local volume differences between brains are calculated. This allows the anatomy of brains to be compared, e.g. to detect changes over a long period of time or to make comparisons between the brains of patients and controls.

Deformation-based morphometry allows to localize volume changes in the brain with very high accuracy and to identify individual brain areas that are affected. This is done with the help of the Julich-Brain Atlas. The networks affected by such changes are disease-specific.

The following example shows how the brain of a patient has changed over a period of 4.5 years. Volume changes are measured by the convergence of the vectors. Local volume decreases are shown in red to orange, and volume expansions in blue.

DFMThe ventricles (i.e. the liquor filled spaces in the brain) are conspicuously expaned, whereas the brain tissue in the frontal part of the brain and in the basal ganglia is markedly atrophied.