Search for patterns of functional specificity in the brain: a nonparametric hierarchical Bayesian model for group fMRI data

Citation:

Lashkari D, Sridharan R, Vul E, Hsieh P-J, Kanwisher N, Golland P. Search for patterns of functional specificity in the brain: a nonparametric hierarchical Bayesian model for group fMRI data. Neuroimage. 2012;59 (2) :1348-68.

Date Published:

2012 Jan 16

Abstract:

Functional MRI studies have uncovered a number of brain areas that demonstrate highly specific functional patterns. In the case of visual object recognition, small, focal regions have been characterized with selectivity for visual categories such as human faces. In this paper, we develop an algorithm that automatically learns patterns of functional specificity from fMRI data in a group of subjects. The method does not require spatial alignment of functional images from different subjects. The algorithm is based on a generative model that comprises two main layers. At the lower level, we express the functional brain response to each stimulus as a binary activation variable. At the next level, we define a prior over sets of activation variables in all subjects. We use a Hierarchical Dirichlet Process as the prior in order to learn the patterns of functional specificity shared across the group, which we call functional systems, and estimate the number of these systems. Inference based on our model enables automatic discovery and characterization of dominant and consistent functional systems. We apply the method to data from a visual fMRI study comprised of 69 distinct stimulus images. The discovered system activation profiles correspond to selectivity for a number of image categories such as faces, bodies, and scenes. Among systems found by our method, we identify new areas that are deactivated by face stimuli. In empirical comparisons with previously proposed exploratory methods, our results appear superior in capturing the structure in the space of visual categories of stimuli.
Last updated on 01/24/2017