Objective: An increasing number of human in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have focused on examining the structure and function of the subfields of the hippocampal formation (the dentate gyrus, CA fields 1-3, and the subiculum) and subregions of the parahippocampal gyrus (entorhinal, perirhinal, and parahippocampal cortices). The ability to interpret the results of such studies and to relate them to each other would be improved if a common standard existed for labeling hippocampal subfields and parahippocampal subregions. Currently, research groups label different subsets of structures and use different rules, landmarks, and cues to define their anatomical extents. This paper characterizes, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the variability in the existing manual segmentation protocols for labeling hippocampal and parahippocampal substructures in MRI, with the goal of guiding subsequent work on developing a harmonized substructure segmentation protocol.
Method: MRI scans of a single healthy adult human subject were acquired both at 3 T and 7 T. Representatives from 21 research groups applied their respective manual segmentation protocols to the MRI modalities of their choice. The resulting set of 21 segmentations was analyzed in a common anatomical space to quantify similarity and identify areas of agreement.
Results: The differences between the 21 protocols include the region within which segmentation is performed, the set of anatomical labels used, and the extents of specific anatomical labels. The greatest overall disagreement among the protocols is at the CA1/subiculum boundary, and disagreement across all structures is greatest in the anterior portion of the hippocampal formation relative to the body and tail.
Conclusions: The combined examination of the 21 protocols in the same dataset suggests possible strategies towards developing a harmonized subfield segmentation protocol and facilitates comparison between published studies.
Keywords: CA1; CA2; CA3; Dentate gyrus; Entorhinal cortex; Hippocampal subfields; Hippocampus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Medial temporal lobe; Parahippocampal gyrus; Perirhinal cortex; Segmentation; Subiculum; Unified protocol.
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