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The alignment and normalization of individual brain structures is a prerequisite for group-level analyses of structural and functional neuroimaging data. The techniques currently available are either based on volume and/or surface attributes, with limited insight regarding the consistent alignment of anatomical landmarks across individuals. This article details a global, geometric approach that performs the alignment of the exhaustive sulcal imprints (cortical folding patterns) across individuals. This DIffeomorphic Sulcal-based COrtical (DISCO) technique proceeds to the automatic extraction, identification and simplification of sulcal features from T1-weighted Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) series. These features are then used as control measures for fully-3-D diffeomorphic deformations. Quantitative and qualitative evaluations show that DISCO correctly aligns the sulcal folds and gray and white matter volumes across individuals. The comparison with a recent, iconic diffeomorphic approach (DARTEL) highlights how the absence of explicit cortical landmarks may lead to the misalignment of cortical sulci. We also feature DISCO in the automatic design of an empirical sulcal template from group data. We also demonstrate how DISCO can efficiently be combined with an image-based deformation (DARTEL) to further improve the consistency and accuracy of alignment performances. Finally, we illustrate how the optimized alignment of cortical folds across subjects improves sensitivity in the detection of functional activations in a group-level analysis of neuroimaging data.