I come from a computer science background and am just starting out in the area of analyzing brain imaging data (fMRI predominantly) and while going through some of the literature, I am kind of confused about the difference between a brain atlas and a brain parcellation?

Are the two used interchangeably? Does one correspond to anatomical units and the other to functional units?

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[This is an older post, but...] A brain atlas is going to, typically, be a set of images or volume that is labeled anatomically or functionally. Typically one would take a single volume of data and register or align it to the atlas (or vice-versa).

Parcellation is a way of segmenting sub-regions of a particular region of the brain. (What a "region" is or "sub-region" might be a bit up for debate).

One could do image registration / alignment of an MRI data volume to an atlas (that is parcellated or segmented) and then the parcellation can be applied to the MRI data volume.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome brechmos! No real need to add "This is an older post" prefixes. :) The general idea on Stack Exchange is that the question might be useful to other people than the original poster. Thanks for contributing! $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jun 11 at 13:37

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