Brain atlases are intended to provide a framework for the integration of structural, functional and clinical information. Template-based atlases (2-D and 3-D) consist of representative outlines obtained from the delineation of structural borders in anatomical images. The templates can be overlaid by other data such as statistical maps of activation or results from quantitative neuroanatomical studies. Much more information can be conveyed by simultaneously displaying correlated data sets than by cross-referencing individual images.
We developed an application, the Anatomist, which was used to interactively display complex brain atlas images and provide access to correlated information that described the images. The Anatomist was implemented in Java using a portable imaging framework (the jViewbox) that provided the decoders for common medical image file formats and the image display and manipulation tools needed to implement an intuitive and interactive graphical user interface for manipulating brain atlas data. We also implemented functions to composite multiple structural and functional data sets and to present the data in axial, coronal and sagittal orientations. Each data set was either viewed individually or the transparency of each layer was adjusted so as to view multiple data sets simultaneously. The Anatomist is a user-friendly tool that facilitates the presentation of complex 3-D brain image atlases.