Intensity warping for multisite MRI harmonization

J. Wrobel, M. L. Martin, R. Bakshi, P. A. Calabresi, M. Elliot, D. Roalf, R. C. Gur, R. E. Gur, R. G. Henry, G. Nair, J. Oh, N. Papinutto, D. Pelletier, D. S. Reich, W. D. Rooney, T. D. Satterthwaite, W. Stern, K. Prabhakaran, N. L. Sicotte, R. T. ShinoharaJ. Goldsmith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In multisite neuroimaging studies there is often unwanted technical variation across scanners and sites. These “scanner effects” can hinder detection of biological features of interest, produce inconsistent results, and lead to spurious associations. We propose mica (multisite image harmonization by cumulative distribution function alignment), a tool to harmonize images taken on different scanners by identifying and removing within-subject scanner effects. Our goals in the present study were to (1) establish a method that removes scanner effects by leveraging multiple scans collected on the same subject, and, building on this, (2) develop a technique to quantify scanner effects in large multisite studies so these can be reduced as a preprocessing step. We illustrate scanner effects in a brain MRI study in which the same subject was measured twice on seven scanners, and assess our method's performance in a second study in which ten subjects were scanned on two machines. We found that unharmonized images were highly variable across site and scanner type, and our method effectively removed this variability by aligning intensity distributions. We further studied the ability to predict image harmonization results for a scan taken on an existing subject at a new site using cross-validation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number117242
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Elsarticle.cls
  • Image harmonization
  • Intensity normalization
  • Multisite imaging
  • Warping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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