The cerebellum plays an important role in motor control and is also involved in cognitive processes. Cerebellar function is specialized by location, although the exact topographic functional relationship is not fully understood. The spinocerebellar ataxias are a group of neurodegenerative diseases that cause regional atrophy in the cerebellum, yielding distinct motor and cognitive problems. The ability to study the region-specific atrophy patterns can provide insight into the problem of relating cerebellar function to location. In an effort to study these structural change patterns, we developed a toolbox in MATLAB to provide researchers a unique way to visually explore the correlation between cerebellar lobule shape changes and function loss, with a rich set of visualization and analysis modules. In this paper, we outline the functions and highlight the utility of the toolbox. The toolbox takes as input landmark shape representations of subjects’ cerebellar substructures. A principal component analysis is used for dimension reduction. Following this, a linear discriminant analysis and a regression analysis can be performed to find the discriminant direction associated with a specific disease type, or the regression line of a specific functional measure can be generated. The characteristic structural change pattern of a disease type or of a functional score is visualized by sampling points on the discriminant or regression line. The sampled points are used to reconstruct synthetic cerebellar lobule shapes. We showed a few case studies highlighting the utility of the toolbox and we compare the analysis results with the literature.
Cerebellar dysfunction can lead to a wide range of movement disorders. Studying the cerebellar atrophy pattern associated with different cerebellar disease types can potentially help in diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning. In this paper, we present a landmark based shape analysis pipeline to classify healthy control and different ataxia types and to visualize the characteristic cerebellar atrophy patterns associated with different types. A highly informative feature representation of the cerebellar structure is constructed by extracting dense homologous landmarks on the boundary surfaces of cerebellar sub-structures. A diagnosis group classifier based on this representation is built using partial least square dimension reduction and regularized linear discriminant analysis. The characteristic atrophy pattern for an ataxia type is visualized by sampling along the discriminant direction between healthy controls and the ataxia type. Experimental results show that the proposed method can successfully classify healthy controls and different ataxia types. The visualized cerebellar atrophy patterns were consistent with the regional volume decreases observed in previous studies, but the proposed method provides intuitive and detailed understanding about changes of overall size and shape of the cerebellum, as well as that of individual lobules.