Fuzzy-Logic Based Detection and Characterization of Junctions and Terminations in Fluorescence Microscopy Images of Neurons

M. Radojević, I. Smal, E. Meijering

Neuroinformatics, vol. 14, no. 2, April 2016, pp. 201-219

DOI PubMed

Digital reconstruction of neuronal cell morphology is an important step toward understanding the functionality of neuronal networks. Neurons are tree-like structures whose description depends critically on the junctions and terminations, collectively called critical points, making the correct localization and identification of these points a crucial task in the reconstruction process. Here we present a fully automatic method for the integrated detection and characterization of both types of critical points in fluorescence microscopy images of neurons. In view of the majority of our current studies, which are based on cultured neurons, we describe and evaluate the method for application to two-dimensional (2D) images. The method relies on directional filtering and angular profile analysis to extract essential features about the main streamlines at any location in an image, and employs fuzzy logic with carefully designed rules to reason about the feature values in order to make well-informed decisions about the presence of a critical point and its type. Experiments on simulated as well as real images of neurons demonstrate the detection performance of our method. A comparison with the output of two existing neuron reconstruction methods reveals that our method achieves substantially higher detection rates and could provide beneficial information to the reconstruction process.

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