The shape of it all. Understanding how the shape of neuroanatomical structures is relevant and implicated in healthy development and neuropsychiatric disorders

For decades neuroimaging scientists have been using brain volume as derived from magnetic resonance imaging data as a proxy for the integrity of a myriad of neuroanatomical structures. However, we have recently developed novel and sophisticated brain mapping techniques that estimate shape indices in different structures and we demonstrate how shape is changing in the brain in the absence of volume changes; this is consistent in our studies of normative development (Raznahan et al., 2014), neurodevelopmental disorders (Shaw et al., 2014), and addiction (Janes et al., 2014). We believe that these methods can elucidate subtle brain differences that may be invisible to more traditional volumetric measures (see also atlases and software).