Pre-term birth is strongly associated with subsequent neuropsychiatric impairment. To identify structural differences in preterm infants we have examined a dataset of magnetic resonance (MR) images containing 88 preterm infants and 19 term born controls. We have analyzed these images by combining image registration, deformation based morphometry (DBM), multivariate statistics, and effect size maps (ESM). The methodology described has been performed directly on the MR intensity images rather than on segmented versions of the images. The results indicate that the approach described makes clear the statistical differences between the control and preterm samples, showing a leave-one-out classification accuracy of 94.74% and 95.45% respectively. In addition, finding the most discriminant direction between the groups and using DBM features and ESM we are able to identify not only what are the changes between preterm and term groups but also how relatively relevant they are in terms of volume expansion and contraction.
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