Pediatric neuroimaging provides unprecedented insight into the development of the neonatal brain. SUIT-N is a new high-resolution atlas template of the neonatal human cerebellum and brainstem, based on the anatomy of 20 newborn individuals. The atlas is spatially unbiased, i.e. the location of each structure is close to the expected location of that structure across individuals in UNC atlas space. At the same time, the template preserves the anatomical detail of cerebellar structures through a nonlinear atlas-generation algorithm. By using automated nonlinear normalization methods, a more accurate intersubject-alignment than current whole-brain methods can be achieved.

The template and software are freely available as an open source SPM-toolbox. The toolbox allows you to:

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Why a specialized template for neonates?

UNC template and SUIT-N compared

Although automated brain extraction and segmentation of the adult brain is well established, these approaches cannot easily be extended to the neonatal brain due to its inverted Gray Matter–White Matter contrast. Currently, anatomical studies of the neonatal brain use many different methodologies for analysis, leading to a confusing breath of outcomes. The most commonly used neonatal atlas template is the UNC template (Shi et al. 2011). This template was generated with data of 95 individual brains. However, as it can be seen on the right, the template provides very little contrast for cerebellar structures and in many cases the cerebellum is removed to improve the neocortical coregistration. Furthermore, Whole-brain normalization (affine or nonlinear) to this template leads to a large spatial spread of cerebellar localization (see figure below).We therefore developed a new template of the neonatal cerebellum and brainstem (SUIT-N).

Comparison between SUIT-N and whole-brain methods for neonatal normalization

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