Analysis of tubular structures in three-dimensional confocal images

Geert J. Streekstra, Jaap van Pelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Knowledge about the relationship between morphology and the function of neurons is an important instrument in understanding the role that neurons play in information processing in the brain. In paricular, the diameter and length of segments in dendritic arborization are considered to be crucial morphological features. Consequently, accurate detection of morphological features such as centre line position and diameter is a prerequisite to establish this relationship. Accurate detection of neuron morphology from confocal microscope images is hampered by the low signal to noise ratio of the images and the properties of the microscope point spread function (PSF). The size and the anisotropy of the PSF causes feature detection to be biased and orientation dependent. We deal with these problems by utilizing Gaussian image derivatives for feature detection. Gaussian kernels provide for image derivative estimates with low noise sensitivity. Features of interest such as centre line positions and diameter in a tubular neuronal segment of a dendritic tree can be detected by calculating and subsequently utilizing Gaussian image derivatives. For diameter measurement the microscope PSF is incorporated into the derivative calculation. Results on real and simulated confocal images reveal that centre line position and diameter can be estimated accurately and are bias free even under realistic imaging conditions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-395
JournalNetwork (Bristol, England)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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