Creating atlases relies on the accumulation and compilation of many image sets along with appropriate registration and warping strategies, indexing schemes and nomenclature systems. The processing of images in the context of an atlas enables a more meaningful interpretation.
The complexity and variability of human brain (as well as other species) across subjects is so great that reliance on atlases is essential to effectively manipulate, analyze and interpret brain data. Central to these tasks is the construction of averages, templates and models to describe how the brain and its component parts are organized. Design of appropriate reference systems for human brain data presents considerable challenges, since these systems must capture how brain structure and function vary in large populations, across age and gender, in different disease states, across imaging modalities, and even across species.