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A New MRI Masking Technique Based on Multi-Atlas Brain Segmentation in Controls and Schizophrenia: A Rapid and Viable Alternative to Manual Masking

By Elisabetta C. del Re, Yi Gao, Ryan Eckbo, Tracey L. Petryshen, Gabriëlla A.M. Blokland, Larry J. Seidman, Jun Konishi, Jill M. Goldstein, Robert W. McCarley, Martha E. Shenton, and Sylvain Bouix | Journal of Neuroimaging | November 20, 2015


Brain masking of MRI images separates brain from surrounding tissue and its accuracy is important for further imaging analyses. We implemented a new brain masking technique based on multi-atlas brain segmentation (MABS) and compared MABS to masks generated using FreeSurfer (FS; version 5.3), Brain Extraction Tool (BET), and Brainwash, using manually defined masks (MM) as the gold standard. We further determined the effect of different masking techniques on cortical and subcortical volumes generated by FreeSurfer.


Images were acquired on a 3-Tesla MR Echospeed system General Electric scanner on five control and five schizophrenia subjects matched on age, sex, and IQ. Automated masks were generated from MABS, FS, BET, and Brainwash, and compared to MM using these metrics: a) volume difference from MM; b) Dice coefficients; and c) intraclass correlation coefficients.


Mean volume difference between MM and MABS masks was significantly less than the difference between MM and FS or BET masks. Dice coefficient between MM and MABS was significantly higher than Dice coefficients between MM and FS, BET, or Brainwash. For subcortical and left cortical regions, MABS volumes were closer to MM volumes than were BET or FS volumes. For right cortical regions, MABS volumes were closer to MM volumes than were BET volumes.


Brain masks generated using FreeSurfer, BET, and Brainwash are rapidly obtained, but are less accurate than manually defined masks. Masks generated using MABS, in contrast, resemble more closely the gold standard of manual masking, thereby offering a rapid and viable alternative.

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