Vertexwise sulcal width map computed over the human cortical surface using magnetic resonance imaging.
The human cortex is folded into a pattern of well-defined outward folds called gyri and buried inward folds known as sulci. The shape and size of the human cortex can be quantified and these quantifications can be used as biomarkers. Biomarkers may play an important role in the diagnosis and prognosis of neurological diseases. Two shape descriptors that have been largely ignored are the distance between the sulcal banks, i.e. the sulcal width, and the top-to-bottom distance of sulci, i.e. sulcal depth. In this work, a new method is proposed for quantitative assessment of sulcal width and depth from MRI T1-weighted images. The main steps during the image processing method include: (1) the extraction of sulcal lines and gyral crowns from the anatomy of the sulcus and (2) the normalization of the cortical surface such that pattern irregularities are taken into account, and (3) the generation of a vertex-wise sulcal width and depth map. A validation of the proposed method is presented and, in addition, an example of a potential application of the method. We foresee that the developed method is applicable to research aimed at quantifying cortical shape for clinical as well as nonclinical purposes.