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A Tensor Statistical Model for Quantifying Dynamic Functional Connectivity.

Inf Process Med Imaging. 2017 Jun;10265:398-410

Authors: Zhu Y, Zhu X, Kim M, Yan J, Wu G

Functional connectivity (FC) has been widely investigated in many imaging-based neuroscience and clinical studies. Since functional Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) signal is just an indirect reflection of brain activity, it is difficult to accurately quantify the FC strength only based on signal correlation. To address this limitation, we propose a learning-based tensor model to derive high sensitivity and specificity connectome biomarkers at the individual level from resting-state fMRI images. First, we propose a learning-based approach to estimate the intrinsic functional connectivity. In addition to the low level region-to-region signal correlation, latent module-to-module connection is also estimated and used to provide high level heuristics for measuring connectivity strength. Furthermore, sparsity constraint is employed to automatically remove the spurious connections, thus alleviating the issue of searching for optimal threshold. Second, we integrate our learning-based approach with the sliding-window technique to further reveal the dynamics of functional connectivity. Specifically, we stack the functional connectivity matrix within each sliding window and form a 3D tensor where the third dimension denotes for time. Then we obtain dynamic functional connectivity (dFC) for each individual subject by simultaneously estimating the within-sliding-window functional connectivity and characterizing the across-sliding-window temporal dynamics. Third, in order to enhance the robustness of the connectome patterns extracted from dFC, we extend the individual-based 3D tensors to a population-based 4D tensor (with the fourth dimension stands for the training subjects) and learn the statistics of connectome patterns via 4D tensor analysis. Since our 4D tensor model jointly (1) optimizes dFC for each training subject and (2) captures the principle connectome patterns, our statistical model gains more statistical power of representing new subject than current state-of-the-art methods which in contrast perform above two steps separately. We have applied our tensor statistical model to identify ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) by using the learned dFC patterns. Promising classification results have been achieved demonstrating high discrimination power and great potentials in computer assisted diagnosis of neuro-disorders.

PMID: 29657509 [PubMed]

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