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3 Publications

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    11/13/18 | Analyzing image segmentation for connectomics.
    Plaza SM, Funke J
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2018;12:102. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2018.00102

    Automatic image segmentation is critical to scale up electron microscope (EM) connectome reconstruction. To this end, segmentation competitions, such as CREMI and SNEMI, exist to help researchers evaluate segmentation algorithms with the goal of improving them. Because generating ground truth is time-consuming, these competitions often fail to capture the challenges in segmenting larger datasets required in connectomics. More generally, the common metrics for EM image segmentation do not emphasize impact on downstream analysis and are often not very useful for isolating problem areas in the segmentation. For example, they do not capture connectivity information and often over-rate the quality of a segmentation as we demonstrate later. To address these issues, we introduce a novel strategy to enable evaluation of segmentation at large scales both in a supervised setting, where ground truth is available, or an unsupervised setting. To achieve this, we first introduce new metrics more closely aligned with the use of segmentation in downstream analysis and reconstruction. In particular, these include synapse connectivity and completeness metrics that provide both meaningful and intuitive interpretations of segmentation quality as it relates to the preservation of neuron connectivity. Also, we propose measures of segmentation correctness and completeness with respect to the percentage of "orphan" fragments and the concentrations of self-loops formed by segmentation failures, which are helpful in analysis and can be computed without ground truth. The introduction of new metrics intended to be used for practical applications involving large datasets necessitates a scalable software ecosystem, which is a critical contribution of this paper. To this end, we introduce a scalable, flexible software framework that enables integration of several different metrics and provides mechanisms to evaluate and debug differences between segmentations. We also introduce visualization software to help users to consume the various metrics collected. We evaluate our framework on two relatively large public groundtruth datasets providing novel insights on example segmentations.

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    09/26/18 | Synaptic cleft segmentation in non-isotropic volume electron microscopy of the complete Drosophila brain.
    Heinrich L, Funke J, Pape C, Nunez-Iglesias J, Saalfeld S
    Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention – MICCAI 2018. 2018 Sep 26:317-25. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-00934-2_36

    Neural circuit reconstruction at single synapse resolution is increasingly recognized as crucially important to decipher the function of biological nervous systems. Volume electron microscopy in serial transmission or scanning mode has been demonstrated to provide the necessary resolution to segment or trace all neurites and to annotate all synaptic connections. 
    Automatic annotation of synaptic connections has been done successfully in near isotropic electron microscopy of vertebrate model organisms. Results on non-isotropic data in insect models, however, are not yet on par with human annotation. 
    We designed a new 3D-U-Net architecture to optimally represent isotropic fields of view in non-isotropic data. We used regression on a signed distance transform of manually annotated synaptic clefts of the CREMI challenge dataset to train this model and observed significant improvement over the state of the art. 
    We developed open source software for optimized parallel prediction on very large volumetric datasets and applied our model to predict synaptic clefts in a 50 tera-voxels dataset of the complete Drosophila brain. Our model generalizes well to areas far away from where training data was available.

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    Cardona LabFunke LabFlyEM
    11/18/15 | Who is talking to whom: Synaptic partner detection in anisotropic volumes of insect brain.
    Kreshuk A, Funke J, Cardona A, Hamprecht FA
    Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention -- MICCAI 2015:661-8. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-24553-9_81

    Automated reconstruction of neural connectivity graphs from electron microscopy image stacks is an essential step towards large-scale neural circuit mapping. While significant progress has recently been made in automated segmentation of neurons and detection of synapses, the problem of synaptic partner assignment for polyadic (one-to-many) synapses, prevalent in the Drosophila brain, remains unsolved. In this contribution, we propose a method which automatically assigns pre- and postsynaptic roles to neurites adjacent to a synaptic site. The method constructs a probabilistic graphical model over potential synaptic partner pairs which includes factors to account for a high rate of one-to-many connections, as well as the possibility of the same neuron to be pre-synaptic in one synapse and post-synaptic in another. The algorithm has been validated on a publicly available stack of ssTEM images of Drosophila neural tissue and has been shown to reconstruct most of the synaptic relations correctly.

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