Statistical analysis of anatomical maps in a stereotaxic space has been shown to be a useful tool in population-based studies for quantifying local anatomical differences or changes, without a priori assumptions about the location and extent of the regions of interest. This paper presents an extension and validation of a previously published methodology, referred to as RAVENS, for characterizing regional atrophy in the brain. A new method for elastic, volume-preserving spatial normalization, which allows for accurate quantification of very localized atrophy, is used. The RAVENS methodology was tested on images with simulated atrophy within two gyri: precentral and superior temporal. It was found to accurately determine the regions of atrophy, despite their localized nature and the interindividual variability of cortical structures. Moreover, it was found to perform substantially better than the voxel-based morphology method of SPM'99. Improved sensitivity was achieved at the expense of human effort involved in defining a number of sulcal curves that serve as constraints on the 3D elastic warping.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.