Whole brain segmentation on structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is essential for understanding neuroanatomical-functional relationships. Traditionally, multi-atlas segmentation has been regarded as the standard method for whole brain segmentation. In past few years, deep convolutional neural network (DCNN) segmentation methods have demonstrated their advantages in both accuracy and computational efficiency. Recently, we proposed the spatially localized atlas network tiles (SLANT) method, which is able to segment a 3D MRI brain scan into 132 anatomical regions. Commonly, DCNN segmentation methods yield inferior performance under external validations, especially when the testing patterns were not presented in the training cohorts. Recently, we obtained a clinically acquired, multi-sequence MRI brain cohort with 1480 clinically acquired, de-identified brain MRI scans on 395 patients using seven different MRI protocols. Moreover, each subject has at least two scans from different MRI protocols. Herein, we assess the SLANT method’s intra- and inter-protocol reproducibility. SLANT achieved less than 0.05 coefficient of variation (CV) for intra-protocol experiments and less than 0.15 CV for inter-protocol experiments. The results show that the SLANT method achieved high intra- and inter- protocol reproducibility.
An important task in image processing and neuroimaging is to extract quantitative information from the acquired images in order to make observations about the presence of disease or markers of development in populations. Having a low-dimensional manifold of an image allows for easier statistical comparisons between groups and the synthesis of group representatives. Previous studies have sought to identify the best mapping of brain MRI to a low-dimensional manifold, but have been limited by assumptions of explicit similarity measures. In this work, we use deep learning techniques to investigate implicit manifolds of normal brains and generate new, high-quality images. We explore implicit manifolds by addressing the problems of image synthesis and image denoising as important tools in manifold learning. First, we propose the unsupervised synthesis of T1-weighted brain MRI using a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) by learning from 528 examples of 2D axial slices of brain MRI. Synthesized images were first shown to be unique by performing a cross-correlation with the training set. Real and synthesized images were then assessed in a blinded manner by two imaging experts providing an image quality score of 1-5. The quality score of the synthetic image showed substantial overlap with that of the real images. Moreover, we use an autoencoder with skip connections for image denoising, showing that the proposed method results in higher PSNR than FSL SUSAN after denoising. This work shows the power of artificial networks to synthesize realistic imaging data, which can be used to improve image processing techniques and provide a quantitative framework to structural changes in the brain.