Despite the fact that several theories link cortical development and function to the development of white matter and its geometrical structure, the relationship between gray and white matter morphology has not been widely researched. In this paper, we propose a novel framework for investigating this relationship. Given a set of fiber tracts which connect to a particular cortical region, the key idea is to compute two scalar fields that represent geometrical characteristics of the white matter and of the surface of the cortical region. The distributions of these scalar values are then linked via Mutual Information, which results in a quantitative marker that can be used in the study of normal and pathological brain structure and development. We apply this framework to a population study on autism spectrum disorder in children.
The main contribution of this work is the careful syntactical definition of major white matter tracts in the human brain based on a neuroanatomist's expert knowledge. We present a technique to formally describe white matter tracts and to automatically extract them from diffusion MRI data. The framework is based on a novel query language with a near-to-English textual syntax. This query language allows us to construct a dictionary of anatomical definitions describing white matter tracts. The definitions include adjacent gray and white matter regions, and rules for spatial relations. This enables automated coherent labeling of white matter anatomy across subjects. We use our method to encode anatomical knowledge in human white matter describing 10 association and 8 projection tracts per hemisphere and 7 commissural tracts. The technique is shown to be comparable in accuracy to manual labeling. We present results applying this framework to create a white matter atlas from 77 healthy subjects, and we use this atlas in a proof-of-concept study to detect tract changes specific to schizophrenia.
We present a method to detect epileptic regions based on functional connectivity differences between individual epilepsy patients and a healthy population. Our model assumes that the global functional characteristics of these differences are shared across patients, but it allows for the epileptic regions to vary between individuals. We evaluate the detection performance against intracranial EEG observations and compare our approach with two baseline methods that use standard statistics. The baseline techniques are sensitive to the choice of thresholds, whereas our algorithm automatically estimates the appropriate model parameters and compares favorably with the best baseline results. This suggests the promise of our approach for pre-surgical planning in epilepsy.
This paper investigates a diffeomorphic point-set registration based on non-stationary mixture models. The goal is to improve the non-linear registration of anatomical structures by representing each point as a general non-stationary kernel that provides information about the shape of that point. Our framework generalizes work done by others that use stationary models. We achieve this by integrating the shape at each point when calculating the point-set similarity and transforming it according to the calculated deformation. We also restrict the non-rigid transform to the space of symmetric diffeomorphisms. Our algorithm is validated in synthetic and human datasets in two different applications: fiber bundle and lung airways registration. Our results shows that non-stationary mixture models are superior to Gaussian mixture models and methods that do not take into account the shape of each point.
Constrained registration is an active area of research and is the focus of this work. This note describes a non-rigid image registration framework for incorporating landmark constraints. Points that must remain stationary are selected, the user chooses the spatial extent of the inputs, and an automatic step computes the deformable registration, respecting the constraints. Parametrization of the deformation field is by an additive composition of a similarity transformation and a set of Gaussian radial basis functions. The bases' centers, variances, and weights are determined with a global optimization approach that is introduced. This approach is based on the particle filter for performing constrained optimization; it explores a series of states defining a deformation field that is physically meaningful (i.e., invertible) and prevents chosen points from moving. Results on synthetic two dimensional images are presented.
We present a novel method for inferring tissue labels in atlas-based image segmentation using Gaussian process regression. Atlas-based segmentation results in probabilistic label maps that serve as input to our method. We introduce a contour-driven prior distribution over label maps to incorporate image features of the input scan into the label inference problem. The mean function of the Gaussian process posterior distribution yields the MAP estimate of the label map and is used in the subsequent voting. We demonstrate improved segmentation accuracy when our approach is combined with two different patch-based segmentation techniques. We focus on the segmentation of parotid glands in CT scans of patients with head and neck cancer, which is important for radiation therapy planning.
Estimation of the diffusion propagator from a sparse set of diffusion MRI (dMRI) measurements is a field of active research. Sparse reconstruction methods propose to reduce scan time and are particularly suitable for scanning un-coperative patients. Recent work on reconstructing the diffusion signal from very few measurements using compressed sensing based techniques has focussed on propagator (or signal) estimation at each voxel independently. However, the goal of many neuroscience studies is to use tractography to study the pathology in white matter fiber tracts. Thus, in this work, we propose a joint framework for robust estimation of the diffusion propagator from sparse measurements while simultaneously tracing the white matter tracts. We propose to use a novel multi-tensor model of diffusion which incorporates the biexponential radial decay of the signal. Our preliminary results on in-vivo data show that the proposed method produces consistent and reliable fiber tracts from very few gradient directions while simultaneously estimating the bi-exponential decay of the diffusion propagator.
The accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is important in early dementia detection and treatment planning. Most of current studies formulate the AD diagnosis scenario as a classification problem and solve it using various machine learners trained with multi-modal biomarkers. However, the diagnosis accuracy is usually constrained by the performance of the machine learners as well as the methods of integrating the multi-modal data. In this study, we propose a novel diagnosis algorithm, the Multifold Bayesian Kernelization (MBK), which models the diagnosis process as a synthesis analysis of multi-modal biomarkers. MBK constructs a kernel for each biomarker that maximizes the local neighborhood affinity, and further evaluates the contribution of each biomarker based on a Bayesian framework. MBK adopts a novel diagnosis scheme that could infer the subject's diagnosis by synthesizing the output diagnosis probabilities of individual biomarkers. The proposed algorithm, validated using multimodal neuroimaging data from the ADNI baseline cohort with 85 AD, 169 MCI and 77 cognitive normal subjects, achieves significant improvements on all diagnosis groups compared to the state-of-the-art methods.
This paper extends Jones' popular electrostatic repulsion based algorithm for distribution of single-shell Q-space samples in two fundamental ways. The first alleviates the single-shell requirement enabling full Q-space sampling. Such an extension is not immediately obvious since it requires distributing samples evenly in 3 dimensions. The extension is as elegant as it is simple: Add a container volume of the desired shape having a constant charge density and a total charge equal to the negative of the sum of the moving point charges. Results for spherical and cubic charge containers are given. The second extension concerns the way distances between sample point are measured. The Q-space samples represent orientation, rather than direction and it would seem appropriate to use a metric that reflects this fact, e.g. a tensor metric. To this end we present a means to employ a generalized metric in the optimization. Minimizing the energy will result in a 3-dimensional distribution of point charges that is uniform in the terms of the specified metric. The radically different distributions generated using different metrics pinpoints a fundamental question: Is there an inherent optimal metric for Q-space sampling? Our work provides a versatile tool to explore the role of different metrics and we believe it will be an important contribution to further the continuing debate and research on the matter.
This paper presents feature-based alignment (FBA), a general method for efficient and robust model-to-image alignment. Volumetric images, e.g. CT scans of the human body, are modeled probabilistically as a collage of 3D scale-invariant image features within a normalized reference space. Features are incorporated as a latent random variable and marginalized out in computing a maximum a posteriori alignment solution. The model is learned from features extracted in pre-aligned training images, then fit to features extracted from a new image to identify a globally optimal locally linear alignment solution. Novel techniques are presented for determining local feature orientation and efficiently encoding feature intensity in 3D. Experiments involving difficult magnetic resonance (MR) images of the human brain demonstrate FBA achieves alignment accuracy similar to widely-used registration methods, while requiring a fraction of the memory and computation resources and offering a more robust, globally optimal solution. Experiments on CT human body scans demonstrate FBA as an effective system for automatic human body alignment where other alignment methods break down.
Traditional models of the human language circuitry encompass three cortical areas, Broca's, Geschwind's and Wernicke's, and their connectivity through white matter fascicles. The neural connectivity deep to these cortical areas remains poorly understood, as does the macroscopic functional organization of the cortico-subcortical language circuitry. In an effort to expand current knowledge, we combined functional MRI (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging to explore subject-specific structural and functional macroscopic connectivity, focusing on Broca's area. Fascicles were studied using diffusion tensor imaging fiber tracking seeded from volumes placed manually within the white matter. White matter fascicles and fMRI-derived clusters (antonym-generation task) of positive and negative blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal were co-registered with 3-D renderings of the brain in 12 healthy subjects. Fascicles connecting BOLD-derived clusters were analyzed within specific cortical areas: Broca's, with the pars triangularis, the pars opercularis, and the pars orbitaris; Geschwind's and Wernicke's; the premotor cortex, the dorsal supplementary motor area, the middle temporal gyrus, the dorsal prefrontal cortex and the frontopolar region. We found a functional connectome divisible into three systems-anterior, superior and inferior-around the insula, more complex than previously thought, particularly with respect to a new extended Broca's area. The extended Broca's area involves two new fascicles: the operculo-premotor fascicle comprised of well-organized U-shaped fibers that connect the pars opercularis with the premotor region; and (2) the triangulo-orbitaris system comprised of intermingled U-shaped fibers that connect the pars triangularis with the pars orbitaris. The findings enhance our understanding of language function.
We propose a novel approach to identify the foci of a neurological disorder based on anatomical and functional connectivity information. Specifically, we formulate a generative model that characterizes the network of abnormal functional connectivity emanating from the affected foci. This allows us to aggregate pairwise connectivity changes into a region-based representation of the disease. We employ the variational expectation-maximization algorithm to fit the model and subsequently identify both the afflicted regions and the differences in connectivity induced by the disorder. We demonstrate our method on a population study of schizophrenia.
The neural correlates of working memory (WM) in schizophrenia (SZ) have been extensively studied using the multisite fMRI data acquired by the Functional Biomedical Informatics Research Network (fBIRN) consortium. Although univariate and multivariate analysis methods have been variously employed to localize brain responses under differing task conditions, important hypotheses regarding the representation of mental processes in the spatio-temporal patterns of neural recruitment and the differential organization of these mental processes in patients versus controls have not been addressed in this context. This paper uses a multivariate state-space model (SSM) to analyze the differential representation and organization of mental processes of controls and patients performing the Sternberg Item Recognition Paradigm (SIRP) WM task. The SSM is able to not only predict the mental state of the subject from the data, but also yield estimates of the spatial distribution and temporal ordering of neural activity, along with estimates of the hemodynamic response. The dynamical Bayesian modeling approach used in this study was able to find significant differences between the predictability and organization of the working memory processes of SZ patients versus healthy subjects. Prediction of some stimulus types from imaging data in the SZ group was significantly lower than controls, reflecting a greater level of disorganization/heterogeneity of their mental processes. Moreover, the changes in accuracy of predicting the mental state of the subject with respect to parametric modulations, such as memory load and task duration, may have important implications on the neurocognitive models for WM processes in both SZ and healthy adults. Additionally, the SSM was used to compare the spatio-temporal patterns of mental activity across subjects, in a holistic fashion and to derive a low-dimensional representation space for the SIRP task, in which subjects were found to cluster according to their diagnosis.
This paper presents feature-based alignment (FBA), a general method for efficient and robust model-to-image alignment. Volumetric images, e.g. CT scans of the human body, are modeled probabilistically as a collage of 3D scale-invariant image features within a normalized reference space. Features are incorporated as a latent random variable and marginalized out in computing a maximum a-posteriori alignment solution. The model is learned from features extracted in pre-aligned training images, then fit to features extracted from a new image to identify a globally optimal locally linear alignment solution. Novel techniques are presented for determining local feature orientation and efficiently encoding feature intensity in 3D. Experiments involving difficult magnetic resonance (MR) images of the human brain demonstrate FBA achieves alignment accuracy similar to widely-used registration methods, while requiring a fraction of the memory and computation resources and offering a more robust, globally optimal solution. Experiments on CT human body scans demonstrate FBA as an effective system for automatic human body alignment where other alignment methods break down.
Open-source software provides an economic benefit by reducing duplicated development effort, and advances science knowledge by fostering a culture of reproducible experimentation. This paper describes recent advances in the Plastimatch open software suite, which implements a broad set of useful tools for research and practice in radiotherapy and medical imaging. The focus of this paper is to highlight recent advancements, including 2D-3D registration, GPU-accelerated mutual information, analytic regularization of B-spline registration, automatic 3D feature detection and feature matching, and radiotherapy plan evaluation tools.
Identifying patterns from the neuroimaging recordings of brain activity related to the unobservable psychological or mental state of an individual can be treated as a unsupervised pattern recognition problem. The main challenges, however, for such an analysis of fMRI data are: a) defining a physiologically meaningful feature-space for representing the spatial patterns across time; b) dealing with the high-dimensionality of the data; and c) robustness to the various artifacts and confounds in the fMRI time-series. In this paper, we present a network-aware feature-space to represent the states of a general network, that enables comparing and clustering such states in a manner that is a) meaningful in terms of the network connectivity structure; b)computationally efficient; c) low-dimensional; and d) relatively robust to structured and random noise artifacts. This feature-space is obtained from a spherical relaxation of the transportation distance metric which measures the cost of trans- porting “mass” over the network to transform one function into another. Through theoretical and empirical assessments, we demonstrate the accuracy and efficiency of the approximation, especially for large problems.
This software framework brings a set of input volumes from pediatric brains into alignment. Therefore, the notion of pair-wise image registration is extended to group-wise alignment, which allows to find correspondence among a whole group of data sets instead of just two of them. Moreover, it simultaneously brings the set of input volumes into alignment, with every member of the population approaching the group's central tendency at the same time.
Regions selective for faces, places, and bodies feature prominently in the literature on the human ventral visual pathway. Are selectivities for these categories in fact the most robust response profiles in this pathway, or is their prominence an artifact of biased sampling of the hypothesis space in prior work? Here we use a data-driven structure discovery method that avoids the assumptions built into most prior work by 1) giving equal consideration to all possible response profiles over the conditions tested, 2) relaxing implicit anatomical constraints (that important functional profiles should manifest themselves in spatially contiguous voxels arising in similar locations across subjects), and 3) testing for dominant response profiles over images, rather than categories, thus enabling us to discover, rather than presume, the categories respected by the brain. Even with these assumptions relaxed, face, place, and body selectivity emerge as dominant in the ventral stream.