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Describes a fully automated method for model-based tissue classification of magnetic resonance (MR) images of the brain. The method interleaves classification with estimation of the model parameters, improving the classification at each iteration. The algorithm is able to segment single- and multi-spectral MR images, corrects for MR signal inhomogeneities, and incorporates contextual information by means of Markov random Fields (MRF's). A digital brain atlas containing prior expectations about the spatial location of tissue classes is used to initialize the algorithm. This makes the method fully automated and therefore it provides objective and reproducible segmentations. The authors have validated the technique on simulated as well as on real MR images of the brain.