Date Published:2010 Jun
In this paper, we analyze Markov Random Field (MRF) as a spatial regularizer in fMRI detection. The low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in fMRI images presents a serious challenge for detection algorithms, making regularization necessary to achieve good detection accuracy. Gaussian smoothing, traditionally employed to boost SNR, often produces over-smoothed activation maps. Recently, the use of MRF priors has been suggested as an alternative regularization approach. However, solving for an optimal configuration of the MRF is NP-hard in general. In this work, we investigate fast inference algorithms based on the Mean Field approximation in application to MRF priors for fMRI detection. Furthermore, we propose a novel way to incorporate anatomical information into the MRF-based detection framework and into the traditional smoothing methods. Intuitively speaking, the anatomical evidence increases the likelihood of activation in the gray matter and improves spatial coherency of the resulting activation maps within each tissue type. Validation using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis and the confusion matrix analysis on simulated data illustrates substantial improvement in detection accuracy using the anatomically guided MRF spatial regularizer. We further demonstrate the potential benefits of the proposed method in real fMRI signals of reduced length. The anatomically guided MRF regularizer enables significant reduction of the scan length while maintaining the quality of the resulting activation maps.