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Return to Overview of Cortical Surface Models

Creating Surface Averages of Functional Data

Averaging on the surface has many advantages over averaging in the volume but requires more processing steps. What is needed for each subject is a surface that is folded and aligned to the individual subject anatomy but that has the same number of nodes in each subject (this way a node-wise group map can be created) AND has the nodes aligned to a template brain (this way any given node has the same anatomical location in each subject). Each subject's functional data is mapped to that subject's standardized surface and then node-based group maps are created. The process must be performed separately for the left and right hemispheres.

SUMA automatically creates surfaces that have the desired properties, the std.141 brains. First, we transfer the functional data from each subject to the standard brain with a command line like this:

set s = OB
set sd = /Volumes/data/BCM/{$s}/fs/SUMA
set fd = /Volumes/data/BCM/{$s}/AFNI
cd $fd 
3dVol2Surf -overwrite -spec {$sd}/std.141.fs_both.spec -surf_A std.141.lh.smoothwm.gii  -sv fs_SurfVol_Alnd_Exp+orig -oob_value 0 \
-grid_parent "stats.OB2+orig[MouthFull#0_Coef,EyeFull#0_Coef]" -map_func mask -out_niml {$sd}/{$s}_EM_lh.niml.dset

Although surface registration between subjects is more accurate than volume registration, it is still good to spatially smooth the functional data to account for anatomical variability. It is best to only smooth once, on the surface, so remove any other smoothing steps in the preprocessing. 5 mm is a reasonable amount of smoothing; experiment with smaller amounts.

 SurfSmooth -met HEAT_07  -fwhm 5 -input {$gd}/{$s}_lh_EM.niml.dset -i {$sd}/std.141.lh.smoothwm.gii -output {$gd}/{$s}_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset

After creating surface functional files for each subject, we can use AFNI's group analysis tools exactly as with volume datasets. For instance,

3dttest++  -overwrite -paired -prefix lh_sm5mm_MvsE.niml.dset \
-setA MS_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[0]' MU_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[0]' MX_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[0]' \
-setB MS_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[1]' MU_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[1]' MX_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[1]' 


3dANOVA3 -type 4 -alevels 2 -blevels 2 -clevels 20 \
-dset 1 1 1 MS_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[0]' \
-dset 1 1 2 MT_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[0]' \
-dset 2 2 20 OB_lh_sm_EM.niml.dset'[3]'   \
-fa MouthEye -fb FullMasked -fab MEvsFullMasked  -adiff 1 2 MouthvsEye -bdiff 1 2 FullvsMasked -bucket ANOVA_lh_v1

Displaying the Average Functional Data

After it is averaged on the surface, the fMRI data can be displayed on an individual participant brain or on average brain (see next section for instructions on creating an average anatomical surface). To display on an individual, any std.141 brain can be used. For instance, to display on the Colin N27 brain,

 set workdir = /Volumes/data/BCM/group_eyemouth_ISV

Set this to the directory where your group average functional data live.

 cd /Volumes/data/BCM/N27
 cp @ec_surf std.141.MNI_N27_both.spec *std.141*gii *std.141*sulc* *std.141*2009* $workdir

Copy the N27 surfaces over and use to display results.

Creating Averaged Anatomical Surfaces

To get an idea of how well or poorly the surface normalization works, it can be nice to create an average anatomical surface by taking the mean position in 3D space of each individual node. Here are the steps for creating averaged surfaces from anatomical data.

Convert each subject's surface to a 1D file using ConvertSurface:

foreach s ( $ss )
echo $s
set sd = /Volumes/data/{$g}/{$s}/fs/SUMA 
ConvertSurface -overwrite -i {$sd}/std.141.lh.smoothwm.gii -o_1D {$s}_lh {$s}_lh

Average the location of each node on the standardized surface using 3dMean

3dMean -prefix AvgSurf_lh ??_lh.1D.coord

Convert the average locations back into a surface file that we can load it into SUMA

ConvertSurface -i_1D  AvgSurf_lh.1D OB.1D.topo -o_gii AvgSurf_lh.gii

Load into SUMA with

suma -i AvgSurf_lh.gii

Here are some images illustrating this process.

Single subject surface model OB std141 lh lat.jpg Average surface model across 20 subjects. Note that it is smoother than the individual subject. AvgSurfPics.0000.jpg To quantify regional differences in anatomical variability, we can calculate the standard deviation across subjects at each node (similar to average difference between two surfaces above) using

3dMean -stdev -prefix AvgSurf_lh_v1_SD ??_lh.1D.coord

Plotted on the surface, lateral and medial views AvgSurfPics.0001.jpg AvgSurfPics.0002.jpg

As expected, SD is low in regions that are consistent across subjects (such as the Sylvian fissure ) and SD is high in regions of anatomical variability (such as occipital pole). If desired, SurfSmooth can be used to partially inflate the averaged surface for easier visualization.

Obsolete Stuff

This method supersedes (by being simpler and better) the method described in Argall, B. D., Saad, Z. S., and Beauchamp, M. S.: Simplified intersubject averaging on the cortical surface using SUMA. Hum Brain Mapp 27:14-27, 2006. The previous method is described on obsolete web pages:

  1. Creating Standardized Surface Models
  2. FreeSurfer Standard Surface Models
  3. Comparison of Results with old and new versions of MapIcosahedron