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Fetal brain MRI atlases and datasets: A review.

NeuroImage 2024 April 7
Fetal brain development is a complex process involving different stages of growth and organization which are crucial for the development of brain circuits and neural connections. Fetal atlases and labeled datasets are promising tools to investigate prenatal brain development. They support the identification of atypical brain patterns, providing insights into potential early signs of clinical conditions. In a nutshell, prenatal brain imaging and post-processing via modern tools are a cutting-edge field that will significantly contribute to the advancement of our understanding of fetal development. In this work, we first provide terminological clarification for specific terms (i.e., "brain template" and "brain atlas"), highlighting potentially misleading interpretations related to inconsistent use of terms in the literature. We discuss the major structures and neurodevelopmental milestones characterizing fetal brain ontogenesis. Our main contribution is the systematic review of 18 prenatal brain atlases and 3 datasets. We also tangentially focus on clinical, research, and ethical implications of prenatal neuroimaging.

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