Measuring and comparing brain cortical surface area and other areal quantities.
Winkler AM., Sabuncu MR., Yeo BT., Fischl B., Greve DN., Kochunov P., Nichols TE., Blangero J., Glahn DC.
Structural analysis of MRI data on the cortical surface usually focuses on cortical thickness. Cortical surface area, when considered, has been measured only over gross regions or approached indirectly via comparisons with a standard brain. Here we demonstrate that direct measurement and comparison of the surface area of the cerebral cortex at a fine scale is possible using mass conservative interpolation methods. We present a framework for analyses of the cortical surface area, as well as for any other measurement distributed across the cortex that is areal by nature. The method consists of the construction of a mesh representation of the cortex, registration to a common coordinate system and, crucially, interpolation using a pycnophylactic method. Statistical analysis of surface area is done with power-transformed data to address lognormality, and inference is done with permutation methods. We introduce the concept of facewise analysis, discuss its interpretation and potential applications.