Improved registration of gray matter segments in SPM has been achieved with the DARTEL algorithm. Previous work from our group suggested, however, that such improvements may not translate to studies of clinical groups. To address the registration issue in atrophic brains, this paper relaxed the condition of diffeomorphism, central to DARTEL, and made use of a viscous fluid registration model with limited regularization constraints to register the modulated gray matter probability maps to an intra-population template. Quantitative analysis of the registration results after the additional viscous fluid step showed no worsening of co-localization of fiducials compared to DARTEL or unified segmentation methods, and the resulting voxel based morphometry (VBM) analyses were able to better identify atrophic regions and to produce results with fewer apparent false positives. DARTEL showed great sensitivity to atrophy, but the resulting VBM maps presented broad, amorphous regions of significance that are hard to interpret. We propose that the condition of diffeomorphism is not necessary for basic VBM studies in atrophic populations, but also that it has disadvantages that must be taken into consideration before a study. The presented viscous fluid registration method is proposed for VBM studies to enhance sensitivity and localizing power.