There are relatively few applications in which completely automatic computer-based methods are easily employed to perform the various counting and measuring operations that yield stereological data. In practically all cases some human effort is required at least to oversee the image processing operations that make it ready for automatic measurement, to verify that the features that are of interest are actually extracted from the more complex image that is acquired. In quite a few cases, the computer is used only to tally human counting operations (e.g., mouse clicks) while the human powers of recognition are used (or sometimes misused) to identify the features of interest. Even in this mode, the use of the computer is often worthwhile for image acquisition and processing to enhance visibility of the structure, and to keep the records accurately for later analysis. This chapter discusses the use of a computer to aid manual analysis, while the next one deals with computer-based measurements.
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