The process of constructing an atlas typically involves selecting one individual from a sample on which to base or root the atlas. If the individual selected is far from the population mean, then the resulting atlas is biased towards this individual. This, in turn, may bias any inferences made with the atlas. Unbiased atlas construction addresses this issue by either basing the atlas on the individual which is the median of the sample or by an iterative technique whereby the atlas converges to the unknown population mean. In this paper, we explore the question of whether a single atlas is appropriate for a given sample or whether there is sufficient image based evidence from which we can infer multiple atlases, each constructed from a subset of the data. We refer to this process as atlas stratification. Essentially, we determine whether the sample, and hence the population, is multi-modal and is best represented by an atlas per mode. In this preliminary work, we use the mean shift algorithm to identify the modes of the sample and multidimensional scaling to visualize the clustering process on clinical MRI neurological image datasets. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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