A novel approach for three dimensional dendrite spine segmentation and classification

Tiancheng He, Zhong Xue, Stephen T. Wong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


Dendritic spines are small, bulbous cellular compartments that carry synapses. Biologists have been studying the biochemical and genetic pathways by examining the morphological changes of the dendritic spines at the intracellular level. Automatic dendritic spine detection from high resolution microscopic images is an important step for such morphological studies. In this paper, a novel approach to automated dendritic spine detection is proposed based on a nonlinear degeneration model. Dendritic spines are recognized as small objects with variable shapes attached to dendritic backbones. We explore the problem of dendritic spine detection from a different angle, i.e., the nonlinear degeneration equation (NDE) is utilized to enhance the morphological differences between the dendrite and spines. Using NDE, we simulated degeneration for dendritic spine detection. Based on the morphological features, the shrinking rate on dendrite pixels is different from that on spines, so that spines can be detected and segmented after degeneration simulation. Then, to separate spines into different types, Gaussian curvatures were employed, and the biomimetic pattern recognition theory was applied for spine classification. In the experiments, we compared quantitatively the spine detection accuracy with previous methods, and the results showed the accuracy and superiority of our methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2012
Subtitle of host publicationImage Processing
StatePublished - May 14 2012
EventMedical Imaging 2012: Image Processing - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Feb 6 2012Feb 9 2012


OtherMedical Imaging 2012: Image Processing
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Biomimetic pattern recognition
  • Dendritic spine
  • Feature extraction
  • Neuron image processing
  • Nonlinear degeneration equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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