, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 167–179 | Cite as

A Spatial Registration Toolbox for Structural MR Imaging of the Aging Brain

  • Marco Ganzetti
  • Quanying Liu
  • Dante Mantini
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
Original Article


During aging the brain undergoes a series of structural changes, in size, shape as well as tissue composition. In particular, cortical atrophy and ventricular enlargement are often present in the brain of elderly individuals. This poses serious challenges in the spatial registration of structural MR images. In this study, we addressed this open issue by proposing an enhanced framework for MR registration and segmentation. Our solution was compared with other approaches based on the tools available in SPM12, a widely used software package. Performance of the different methods was assessed on 229 T1-weighted images collected in healthy individuals, with age ranging between 55 and 90 years old. Our method showed a consistent improvement as compared to other solutions, especially for subjects with enlarged lateral ventricles. It also provided a superior inter-subject alignment in cortical regions, with the most marked improvement in the frontal lobe. We conclude that our method is a valid alternative to standard approaches based on SPM12, and is particularly suitable for the processing of structural MR images of brains with cortical atrophy and ventricular enlargement. The method is integrated in our software toolbox MRTool, which is freely available to the scientific community.


Magnetic resonance imaging Spatial registration Normalization Segmentation Aging MRTool Large ventricles 



Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904) and DOD ADNI (Department of Defense award number W81XWH-12-2-0012). ADNI is funded by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and through generous contributions from the following: AbbVie, Alzheimer’s Association; Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation; Araclon Biotech; BioClinica, Inc.; Biogen; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; CereSpir, Inc.; Cogstate; Eisai Inc.; Elan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Eli Lilly and Company; EuroImmun; F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and its affiliated company Genentech, Inc.; Fujirebio; GE Healthcare; IXICO Ltd.; Janssen Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development, LLC.; Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development LLC.; Lumosity; Lundbeck; Merck & Co., Inc.; Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC.; NeuroRx Research; Neurotrack Technologies; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Pfizer Inc.; Piramal Imaging; Servier; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; and Transition Therapeutics. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is providing funds to support ADNI clinical sites in Canada. Private sector contributions are facilitated by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health ( The grantee organization is the Northern California Institute for Research and Education, and the study is coordinated by the Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute at the University of Southern California. ADNI data are disseminated by the Laboratory for Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California. Author MG received funding from the FWO and European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No: 665,501.

Supplementary material

12021_2018_9355_MOESM1_ESM.docx (831 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 831 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Ganzetti
    • 1
  • Quanying Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dante Mantini
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative
  1. 1.Laboratory of Movement Control and NeuroplasticityKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Neural Control of Movement LabETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Experimental PsychologyOxford UniversityOxfordUK

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