Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Image processing


Pathologists and radiologists spend years acquiring and refining their medically essential visual skills, so it is of considerable interest to understand how this process actually unfolds and what image features and properties are critical for accurate diagnostic performance. Key insights into human behavioral tasks can often be obtained by using appropriate animal models. We report here that pigeons (Columba livia)-which share many visual system properties with humans-can serve as promising surrogate observers of medical images, a capability not previously documented. The birds proved to have a remarkable ability to distinguish benign from malignant human breast histopathology after training with differential food reinforcement; even more importantly, the pigeons were able to generalize what they had learned when confronted with novel image sets. The birds' histological accuracy, like that of humans, was modestly affected by the presence or absence of color as well as by degrees of image compression, but these impacts could be ameliorated with further training. Turning to radiology, the birds proved to be similarly capable of detecting cancer-relevant microcalcifications on mammogram images. However, when given a different (and for humans quite difficult) task-namely, classification of suspicious mammographic densities (masses)-the pigeons proved to be capable only of image memorization and were unable to successfully generalize when shown novel examples. The birds' successes and difficulties suggest that pigeons are well-suited to help us better understand human medical image perception, and may also prove useful in performance assessment and development of medical imaging hardware, image processing, and image analysis tools.

Concepts: Medicine, Cancer, X-ray, Medical imaging, Radiology, Medical physics, Mammography, Image processing


Photoplethysmography (PPG) devices are widely used for monitoring cardiovascular function. However, these devices require skin contact, which restricts their use to at-rest short-term monitoring. Photoplethysmographic imaging (PPGI) has been recently proposed as a non-contact monitoring alternative by measuring blood pulse signals across a spatial region of interest. Existing systems operate in reflectance mode, many of which are limited to short-distance monitoring and are prone to temporal changes in ambient illumination. This paper is the first study to investigate the feasibility of long-distance non-contact cardiovascular monitoring at the supermeter level using transmittance PPGI. For this purpose, a novel PPGI system was designed at the hardware and software level. Temporally coded illumination (TCI) is proposed for ambient correction, and a signal processing pipeline is proposed for PPGI signal extraction. Experimental results show that the processing steps yielded a substantially more pulsatile PPGI signal than the raw acquired signal, resulting in statistically significant increases in correlation to ground-truth PPG in both short- and long-distance monitoring. The results support the hypothesis that long-distance heart rate monitoring is feasible using transmittance PPGI, allowing for new possibilities of monitoring cardiovascular function in a non-contact manner.

Concepts: Time, Statistics, Blood, Heart, Statistical significance, Pulse, Signal, Image processing


Automated cell imaging systems facilitate fast and reliable analysis of biological events at the cellular level. In these systems, the first step is usually cell segmentation that greatly affects the success of the subsequent system steps. On the other hand, similar to other image segmentation problems, cell segmentation is an ill-posed problem that typically necessitates the use of domain-specific knowledge to obtain successful segmentations even by human subjects. The approaches that can incorporate this knowledge into their segmentation algorithms have potential to greatly improve segmentation results. In this work, we propose a new approach for the effective segmentation of live cells from phase contrast microscopy. This approach introduces a new set of “smart markers” for a marker-controlled watershed algorithm, for which the identification of its markers is critical. The proposed approach relies on using domain-specific knowledge, in the form of visual characteristics of the cells, to define the markers. We evaluate our approach on a total of 1,954 cells. The experimental results demonstrate that this approach, which uses the proposed definition of smart markers, is quite effective in identifying better markers compared to its counterparts. This will, in turn, be effective in improving the segmentation performance of a marker-controlled watershed algorithm.

Concepts: Better, Microscope, Microscopy, Numerical analysis, Image processing, Phase-contrast imaging, Watershed, Segmentation


Most digital cameras use an array of alternating color filters to capture the varied colors in a scene with a single sensor chip. Reconstruction of a full color image from such a color mosaic is what constitutes demosaicing. In this paper, a technique is proposed that performs this demosaicing in a way that incurs a very low computational cost. This is done through a (dual-tree complex) wavelet interpretation of the demosaicing problem. By using a novel locally adaptive approach for demosaicing (complex) wavelet coefficients, we show that many of the common demosaicing artifacts can be avoided in an efficient way. Results demonstrate that the proposed method is competitive with respect to the current state of the art, but incurs a lower computational cost. The wavelet approach also allows for computationally effective denoising or deblurring approaches.

Concepts: Color, Digital photography, Image sensor, Image processing, Digital camera, Color filter array, Bayer filter, Demosaicing


Orthogonal polarized spectral (OPS) and sidestream dark field (SDF) imaging video microscope devices were introduced for observation of the microcirculation but, due to technical limitations, have remained as research tools. Recently, a novel handheld microscope based on incident dark field illumination (IDF) has been introduced for clinical use. The Cytocam-IDF imaging device consists of a pen-like probe incorporating IDF illumination with a set of high-resolution lenses projecting images on to a computer controlled image sensor synchronized with very short pulsed illumination light. This study was performed to validate Cytocam-IDF imaging by comparison to SDF imaging in volunteers.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Microscope, Computer graphics, Microscopy, IMAGE, Image processing, Dark field microscopy


This review covers computer-assisted analysis of images in the field of medical imaging. Recent advances in machine learning, especially with regard to deep learning, are helping to identify, classify, and quantify patterns in medical images. At the core of these advances is the ability to exploit hierarchical feature representations learned solely from data, instead of features designed by hand according to domain-specific knowledge. Deep learning is rapidly becoming the state of the art, leading to enhanced performance in various medical applications. We introduce the fundamentals of deep learning methods and review their successes in image registration, detection of anatomical and cellular structures, tissue segmentation, computer-aided disease diagnosis and prognosis, and so on. We conclude by discussing research issues and suggesting future directions for further improvement. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering Volume 19 is June 4, 2017. Please see for revised estimates.

Concepts: Medicine, Medical imaging, Positron emission tomography, Medical diagnosis, Learning, Image processing


Today, computer vision systems are tested by their accuracy in detecting and localizing instances of objects. As an alternative, and motivated by the ability of humans to provide far richer descriptions and even tell a story about an image, we construct a “visual Turing test”: an operator-assisted device that produces a stochastic sequence of binary questions from a given test image. The query engine proposes a question; the operator either provides the correct answer or rejects the question as ambiguous; the engine proposes the next question (“just-in-time truthing”). The test is then administered to the computer-vision system, one question at a time. After the system’s answer is recorded, the system is provided the correct answer and the next question. Parsing is trivial and deterministic; the system being tested requires no natural language processing. The query engine employs statistical constraints, learned from a training set, to produce questions with essentially unpredictable answers-the answer to a question, given the history of questions and their correct answers, is nearly equally likely to be positive or negative. In this sense, the test is only about vision. The system is designed to produce streams of questions that follow natural story lines, from the instantiation of a unique object, through an exploration of its properties, and on to its relationships with other uniquely instantiated objects.

Concepts: Question, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Answer, Image processing, Alan Turing, Parsing, Machine vision


High-resolution imaging of densely connected samples such as pathology slides using digital in-line holographic microscopy requires the acquisition of several holograms, e.g., at >6-8 different sample-to-sensor distances, to achieve robust phase recovery and coherent imaging of specimen. Reducing the number of these holographic measurements would normally result in reconstruction artifacts and loss of image quality, which would be detrimental especially for biomedical and diagnostics-related applications. Inspired by the fact that most natural images are sparse in some domain, here we introduce a sparsity-based phase reconstruction technique implemented in wavelet domain to achieve at least 2-fold reduction in the number of holographic measurements for coherent imaging of densely connected samples with minimal impact on the reconstructed image quality, quantified using a structural similarity index. We demonstrated the success of this approach by imaging Papanicolaou smears and breast cancer tissue slides over a large field-of-view of ~20 mm(2) using 2 in-line holograms that are acquired at different sample-to-sensor distances and processed using sparsity-based multi-height phase recovery. This new phase recovery approach that makes use of sparsity can also be extended to other coherent imaging schemes, involving e.g., multiple illumination angles or wavelengths to increase the throughput and speed of coherent imaging.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Diffraction, Coherence, Holography, IMAGE, Image processing, Interferometric microscopy


Fluorescently labeled structures can be spectrally isolated and imaged at high resolution in living embryos by light sheet microscopy. Multimodal imaging techniques are now needed to put these distinct structures back into the context of the surrounding tissue. We found that the bright-field contrast of unstained specimens in a selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) setup can be exploited for in vivo tomographic reconstructions of the three-dimensional anatomy of zebrafish, without causing phototoxicity. We report multimodal imaging of entire zebrafish embryos over several hours of development, as well as segmentation, tracking and automatic registration of individual organs.

Concepts: Biology, Optics, Developmental biology, Light, Medical imaging, Musical form, Image processing


In contrast to conventional multipixel cameras, single-pixel cameras capture images using a single detector that measures the correlations between the scene and a set of patterns. However, these systems typically exhibit low frame rates, because to fully sample a scene in this way requires at least the same number of correlation measurements as the number of pixels in the reconstructed image. To mitigate this, a range of compressive sensing techniques have been developed which use a priori knowledge to reconstruct images from an undersampled measurement set. Here, we take a different approach and adopt a strategy inspired by the foveated vision found in the animal kingdom-a framework that exploits the spatiotemporal redundancy of many dynamic scenes. In our system, a high-resolution foveal region tracks motion within the scene, yet unlike a simple zoom, every frame delivers new spatial information from across the entire field of view. This strategy rapidly records the detail of quickly changing features in the scene while simultaneously accumulating detail of more slowly evolving regions over several consecutive frames. This architecture provides video streams in which both the resolution and exposure time spatially vary and adapt dynamically in response to the evolution of the scene. The degree of local frame rate enhancement is scene-dependent, but here, we demonstrate a factor of 4, thereby helping to mitigate one of the main drawbacks of single-pixel imaging techniques. The methods described here complement existing compressive sensing approaches and may be applied to enhance computational imagers that rely on sequential correlation measurements.

Concepts: IMAGE, Immanuel Kant, Photography, A priori, A priori and a posteriori, Image processing, Digital camera, Frame rate