Infoscience

Thesis

Geodesic Active Fields: A Geometric Framework for Image Registration

Image registration is the concept of mapping homologous points in a pair of images. In other words, one is looking for an underlying deformation field that matches one image to a target image. The spectrum of applications of image registration is extremely large: It ranges from bio-medical imaging and computer vision, to remote sensing or geographic information systems, and even involves consumer electronics. Mathematically, image registration is an inverse problem that is ill-posed, which means that the exact solution might not exist or not be unique. In order to render the problem tractable, it is usual to write the problem as an energy minimization, and to introduce additional regularity constraints on the unknown data. In the case of image registration, one often minimizes an image mismatch energy, and adds an additive penalty on the deformation field regularity as smoothness prior. Here, we focus on the registration of the human cerebral cortex. Precise cortical registration is required, for example, in statistical group studies in functional MR imaging, or in the analysis of brain connectivity. In particular, we work with spherical inflations of the extracted hemispherical surface and associated features, such as cortical mean curvature. Spatial mapping between cortical surfaces can then be achieved by registering the respective spherical feature maps. Despite the simplified spherical geometry, inter-subject registration remains a challenging task, mainly due to the complexity and inter-subject variability of the involved brain structures. In this thesis, we therefore present a registration scheme, which takes the peculiarities of the spherical feature maps into particular consideration. First, we realize that we need an appropriate hierarchical representation, so as to coarsely align based on the important structures with greater inter-subject stability, before taking smaller and more variable details into account. Based on arguments from brain morphogenesis, we propose an anisotropic scale-space of mean-curvature maps, built around the Beltrami framework. Second, inspired by concepts from vision-related elements of psycho-physical Gestalt theory, we hypothesize that anisotropic Beltrami regularization better suits the requirements of image registration regularization, compared to traditional Gaussian filtering. Different objects in an image should be allowed to move separately, and regularization should be limited to within the individual Gestalts. We render the regularization feature-preserving by limiting diffusion across edges in the deformation field, which is in clear contrast to the indifferent linear smoothing. We do so by embedding the deformation field as a manifold in higher-dimensional space, and minimize the associated Beltrami energy which represents the hyperarea of this embedded manifold as measure of deformation field regularity. Further, instead of simply adding this regularity penalty to the image mismatch in lieu of the standard penalty, we propose to incorporate the local image mismatch as weighting function into the Beltrami energy. The image registration problem is thus reformulated as a weighted minimal surface problem. This approach has several appealing aspects, including (1) invariance to re-parametrization and ability to work with images defined on non-flat, Riemannian domains (e.g., curved surfaces, scalespaces), and (2) intrinsic modulation of the local regularization strength as a function of the local image mismatch and/or noise level. On a side note, we show that the proposed scheme can easily keep up with recent trends in image registration towards using diffeomorphic and inverse consistent deformation models. The proposed registration scheme, called Geodesic Active Fields (GAF), is non-linear and non-convex. Therefore we propose an efficient optimization scheme, based on splitting. Data-mismatch and deformation field regularity are optimized over two different deformation fields, which are constrained to be equal. The constraint is addressed using an augmented Lagrangian scheme, and the resulting optimization problem is solved efficiently using alternate minimization of simpler sub-problems. In particular, we show that the proposed method can easily compete with state-of-the-art registration methods, such as Demons. Finally, we provide an implementation of the fast GAF method on the sphere, so as to register the triangulated cortical feature maps. We build an automatic parcellation algorithm for the human cerebral cortex, which combines the delineations available on a set of atlas brains in a Bayesian approach, so as to automatically delineate the corresponding regions on a subject brain given its feature map. In a leave-one-out cross-validation study on 39 brain surfaces with 35 manually delineated gyral regions, we show that the pairwise subject-atlas registration with the proposed spherical registration scheme significantly improves the individual alignment of cortical labels between subject and atlas brains, and, consequently, that the estimated automatic parcellations after label fusion are of better quality.

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