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The authors describe a computerized method to automatically find and label the cortical surface in three-dimensional (3-D) magnetic resonance (MR) brain images. The approach the authors take is to model a prelabeled brain atlas as a physical object and give it elastic properties, allowing it to warp itself onto regions in a preprocessed image. Preprocessing consists of boundary-finding and a morphological procedure which automatically extracts the brain and sulci from an MR image and provides a smoothed representation of the brain surface to which the deformable model can rapidly converge. The authors' deformable models are energy-minimizing elastic surfaces that can accurately locate image features. The models are parameterized with 3-D bicubic B-spline surfaces. The authors design the energy function such that cortical fissure (sulci) points on the model are attracted to fissure points on the image and the remaining model points are attracted to the brain surface. A conjugate gradient method minimizes the energy function, allowing the model to automatically converge to the smoothed brain surface. Finally, labels are propagated from the deformed atlas onto the high-resolution brain surface.