Structural graph-based morphometry: A multiscale searchlight framework based on sulcal pits.

Medical Image Analysis

PubMedID: 27310172

Takerkart S, Auzias G, Brun L, Coulon O. Structural graph-based morphometry: A multiscale searchlight framework based on sulcal pits. Med Image Anal. 2016;3532-45.
Studying the topography of the cortex has proved valuable in order to characterize populations of subjects. In particular, the recent interest towards the deepest parts of the cortical sulci - the so-called sulcal pits - has opened new avenues in that regard. In this paper, we introduce the first fully automatic brain morphometry method based on the study of the spatial organization of sulcal pits - Structural Graph-Based Morphometry (SGBM). Our framework uses attributed graphs to model local patterns of sulcal pits, and further relies on three original contributions. First, a graph kernel is defined to provide a new similarity measure between pit-graphs, with few parameters that can be efficiently estimated from the data. Secondly, we present the first searchlight scheme dedicated to brain morphometry, yielding dense information maps covering the full cortical surface. Finally, a multi-scale inference strategy is designed to jointly analyze the searchlight information maps obtained at different spatial scales. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by studying gender differences and cortical asymmetries: we show that SGBM can both localize informative regions and estimate their spatial scales, while providing results which are consistent with the literature. Thanks to the modular design of our kernel and the vast array of available kernel methods, SGBM can easily be extended to include a more detailed description of the sulcal patterns and solve different statistical problems. Therefore, we suggest that our SGBM framework should be useful for both reaching a better understanding of the normal brain and defining imaging biomarkers in clinical settings.