Construction of a consistent high-definition spatio-temporal atlas of the developing brain using adaptive kernel regression

Ahmed Serag, Paul Aljabar, Gareth Ball, Serena J. Counsell, James P. Boardman, Mary A. Rutherford, A. David Edwards, Joseph V. Hajnal, Daniel Rueckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Medical imaging has shown that, during early development, the brain undergoes more changes in size, shape and appearance than at any other time in life. A better understanding of brain development requires a spatio-temporal atlas that characterizes the dynamic changes during this period. In this paper we present an approach for constructing a 4D atlas of the developing brain, between 28 and 44. weeks post-menstrual age at time of scan, using T1 and T2 weighted MR images from 204 premature neonates. The method used for the creation of the average 4D atlas utilizes non-rigid registration between all pairs of images to eliminate bias in the atlas toward any of the original images. In addition, kernel regression is used to produce age-dependent anatomical templates. A novelty in our approach is the use of a time-varying kernel width, to overcome the variations in the distribution of subjects at different ages. This leads to an atlas that retains a consistent level of detail at every time-point. Comparisons between the resulting atlas and atlases constructed using affine and non-rigid registration are presented. The resulting 4D atlas has greater anatomic definition than currently available 4D atlases created using various affine and non-rigid registration approaches, an important factor in improving registrations between the atlas and individual subjects. Also, the resulting 4D atlas can serve as a good representative of the population of interest as it reflects both global and local changes. The atlas is publicly available at

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2255-2265
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 4D atlas
  • Brain development
  • Kernel regression
  • Multi-modal
  • Neonatal
  • Spatio-temporal


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