Hippocampal shape analysis using medial surfaces

Bouix S, Pruessner JC, Louis Collins D, Siddiqi K

Neuroimage 2005 May;25(4):1077-89

PMID: 15850726


In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research, significant attention has been paid to the analysis of the hippocampus (HC) within the medial temporal lobe because of its importance in memory and learning, and its role in neurodegenerative diseases. Manual segmentation protocols have established a volume decline in the HC in conjunction with Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Furthermore, recent studies have investigated age-related changes of HC volume which show an interaction with gender; in early adulthood, volume reduction of the HC is found in men but not in women. In this paper, we investigated gender differences in normal subjects in young adulthood by employing a shape analysis of the HC using medial surfaces. For each subject, the most prominent medial manifold of the HC was extracted and flattened. The flattened sheets were then registered using both a rigid and a non-rigid alignment technique, and the medial surface radius was expressed as a height function over them. This allowed for an investigation of the association between subject variables and the local width of the HC. With regard to the effects of age and gender, it could be shown that the previously observed gender differences were mostly due to volume loss in males in the lateral areas of the HC head and tail. We suggest that the analysis of HC shape using medial surfaces might thus serve as a complimentary technique to investigate group differences to the established segmentation protocols for volume quantification in MRI.