Calcium imaging is a widely used technique in neuroscience permitting the simultaneous monitoring of electro- physiological activity of hundreds of neurons at single cell resolution. Identification of neuronal activity requires rapid and reliable image analysis techniques, especially when neurons fire and move simultaneously over time. Traditionally, image segmentation is performed to extract individual neurons in the first frame of a calcium sequence. Thereafter, the mean intensity is calculated from the same region of interest in each frame to infer calcium signals. However, when cells move, deform and fire, this segmentation on its own generates artefacts and therefore biased neuronal activity. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop a more efficient cell tracking technique. We hereby present a novel vision-based cell tracking scheme using a thin-plate spline deformable model. The thin-plate spline warping is based on control points detected using the Fast from Accelerated Segment Test descriptor and tracked using the Lucas-Kanade optical flow. Our method is able to track neurons in calcium time-series, even when there are large changes in intensity, such as during a firing event. The robustness and efficiency of the proposed approach is validated on real calcium time-lapse images of a neuronal population.
Recurrent nerve paralysis (RP) is one of the most frequent complications of thyroid surgery. It reduces vocal fold mobility. Nasal endoscopy, a mini-invasive procedure, is the conventional way to detect RP. We suggest a new approach based on laryngeal ultrasound and a specific data analysis was designed to help with the automated detection of RP. Ten subjects were enrolled for this feasibility study: four controls, three patients with RP and three patients without RP according to nasal endoscopy. The ultrasound protocol was based on a ten seconds B-mode acquisition in a coronal plane during normal breathing. Image processing included three steps: 1) automated detection of two consecutive closing and opening images, corresponding to extreme positions of vocal folds in the sequence of B-mode images, using principal component analysis of the image sequence; 2) positioning of three landmarks and robust tracking of these points using a multi-pyramidal refined optical flow approach; 3) estimation of quantitative parameters indicating left and right fractions of mobility, and motion symmetry. Results provided by automated image processing were compared to those obtained by an expert. Detection of extreme images was accurate; tracking of landmarks was reliable in 80% of cases. Motion symmetry indices showed similar values for controls and patients without RP. Fraction of mobility was reduced in cases of RP. Thus, our CAD system helped in the detection of RP. Laryngeal ultrasound combined with appropriate image processing helped in the diagnosis of recurrent nerve paralysis and could be proposed as a first–line method.