Polina Binder, Nematollah K Batmanghelich, Raul San Jose Estepar, and Polina Golland. 2016. Unsupervised Discovery of Emphysema Subtypes in a Large Clinical Cohort. Mach Learn Med Imaging, 10019, Pp. 180-7.

Emphysema is one of the hallmarks of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD), a devastating lung disease often caused by smoking. Emphysema appears on Computed Tomography (CT) scans as a variety of textures that correlate with disease subtypes. It has been shown that the disease subtypes and textures are linked to physiological indicators and prognosis, although neither is well characterized clinically. Most previous computational approaches to modeling emphysema imaging data have focused on supervised classification of lung textures in patches of CT scans. In this work, we describe a generative model that jointly captures heterogeneity of disease subtypes and of the patient population. We also describe a corresponding inference algorithm that simultaneously discovers disease subtypes and population structure in an unsupervised manner. This approach enables us to create image-based descriptors of emphysema beyond those that can be identified through manual labeling of currently defined phenotypes. By applying the resulting algorithm to a large data set, we identify groups of patients and disease subtypes that correlate with distinct physiological indicators.

Chantal M W Tax, Tom Dela Haije, Andrea Fuster, Carl-Fredrik Westin, Max A Viergever, Luc Florack, and Alexander Leemans. 2016. Sheet Probability Index (SPI): Characterizing the Geometrical Organization of the White Matter with Diffusion MRI. Neuroimage, 142, Pp. 260-79.

The question whether our brain pathways adhere to a geometric grid structure has been a popular topic of debate in the diffusion imaging and neuroscience societies. Wedeen et al. (2012a, b) proposed that the brain’s white matter is organized like parallel sheets of interwoven pathways. Catani et al. (2012) concluded that this grid pattern is most likely an artifact, resulting from methodological biases that cause the tractography pathways to cross in orthogonal angles. To date, ambiguities in the mathematical conditions for a sheet structure to exist (e.g. its relation to orthogonal angles) combined with the lack of extensive quantitative evidence have prevented wide acceptance of the hypothesis. In this work, we formalize the relevant terminology and recapitulate the condition for a sheet structure to exist. Note that this condition is not related to the presence or absence of orthogonal crossing fibers, and that sheet structure is defined formally as a surface formed by two sets of interwoven pathways intersecting at arbitrary angles within the surface. To quantify the existence of sheet structure, we present a novel framework to compute the sheet probability index (SPI), which reflects the presence of sheet structure in discrete orientation data (e.g. fiber peaks derived from diffusion MRI). With simulation experiments we investigate the effect of spatial resolution, curvature of the fiber pathways, and measurement noise on the ability to detect sheet structure. In real diffusion MRI data experiments we can identify various regions where the data supports sheet structure (high SPI values), but also areas where the data does not support sheet structure (low SPI values) or where no reliable conclusion can be drawn. Several areas with high SPI values were found to be consistent across subjects, across multiple data sets obtained with different scanners, resolutions, and degrees of diffusion weighting, and across various modeling techniques. Under the strong assumption that the diffusion MRI peaks reflect true axons, our results would therefore indicate that pathways do not form sheet structures at every crossing fiber region but instead at well-defined locations in the brain. With this framework, sheet structure location, extent, and orientation could potentially serve as new structural features of brain tissue. The proposed method can be extended to quantify sheet structure in directional data obtained with techniques other than diffusion MRI, which is essential for further validation.

Hengameh Mirzaalian, Lipeng Ning, Peter Savadjiev, Ofer Pasternak, Sylvain Bouix, Oleg Michailovich, G Grant, C E Marx, R A Morey, L A Flashman, M S George, T W McAllister, N Andaluz, L Shutter, R Coimbra, Ross Zafonte, Michael J Coleman, Marek Kubicki, Carl-Fredrik Westin, M.B. Stein, Martha E Shenton, and Yogesh Rathi. 2016. Inter-site and Inter-scanner Diffusion MRI Data Harmonization. Neuroimage, 135, Pp. 311-23.

We propose a novel method to harmonize diffusion MRI data acquired from multiple sites and scanners, which is imperative for joint analysis of the data to significantly increase sample size and statistical power of neuroimaging studies. Our method incorporates the following main novelties: i) we take into account the scanner-dependent spatial variability of the diffusion signal in different parts of the brain; ii) our method is independent of compartmental modeling of diffusion (e.g., tensor, and intra/extra cellular compartments) and the acquired signal itself is corrected for scanner related differences; and iii) inter-subject variability as measured by the coefficient of variation is maintained at each site. We represent the signal in a basis of spherical harmonics and compute several rotation invariant spherical harmonic features to estimate a region and tissue specific linear mapping between the signal from different sites (and scanners). We validate our method on diffusion data acquired from seven different sites (including two GE, three Philips, and two Siemens scanners) on a group of age-matched healthy subjects. Since the extracted rotation invariant spherical harmonic features depend on the accuracy of the brain parcellation provided by Freesurfer, we propose a feature based refinement of the original parcellation such that it better characterizes the anatomy and provides robust linear mappings to harmonize the dMRI data. We demonstrate the efficacy of our method by statistically comparing diffusion measures such as fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity and generalized fractional anisotropy across multiple sites before and after data harmonization. We also show results using tract-based spatial statistics before and after harmonization for independent validation of the proposed methodology. Our experimental results demonstrate that, for nearly identical acquisition protocol across sites, scanner-specific differences can be accurately removed using the proposed method.

Miaomiao Zhang, William M Wells, and Polina Golland. 2016. Low-Dimensional Statistics of Anatomical Variability via Compact Representation of Image Deformations. Med Image Comput Comput Assist Interv, 9902, Pp. 166-73.

Using image-based descriptors to investigate clinical hypotheses and therapeutic implications is challenging due to the notorious "curse of dimensionality" coupled with a small sample size. In this paper, we present a low-dimensional analysis of anatomical shape variability in the space of diffeomorphisms and demonstrate its benefits for clinical studies. To combat the high dimensionality of the deformation descriptors, we develop a probabilistic model of principal geodesic analysis in a bandlimited low-dimensional space that still captures the underlying variability of image data. We demonstrate the performance of our model on a set of 3D brain MRI scans from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. Our model yields a more compact representation of group variation at substantially lower computational cost than models based on the high-dimensional state-of-the-art approaches such as tangent space PCA (TPCA) and probabilistic principal geodesic analysis (PPGA).

Adrian Dalca V, Andreea Bobu, Natalia S Rost, and Polina Golland. 2016. Patch-Based Discrete Registration of Clinical Brain Images. Patch Based Tech Med Imaging, 9993, Pp. 60-67.

We introduce a method for registration of brain images acquired in clinical settings. The algorithm relies on three-dimensional patches in a discrete registration framework to estimate correspondences. Clinical images present significant challenges for computational analysis. Fast acquisition often results in images with sparse slices, severe artifacts, and variable fields of view. Yet, large clinical datasets hold a wealth of clinically relevant information. Despite significant progress in image registration, most algorithms make strong assumptions about the continuity of image data, failing when presented with clinical images that violate these assumptions. In this paper, we demonstrate a non-rigid registration method for aligning such images. The method explicitly models the sparsely available image information to achieve robust registration. We demonstrate the algorithm on clinical images of stroke patients. The proposed method outperforms state of the art registration algorithms and avoids catastrophic failures often caused by these images. We provide a freely available open source implementation of the algorithm.

Georg Langs, Danhong Wang, Polina Golland, Sophia Mueller, Ruiqi Pan, Mert R Sabuncu, Wei Sun, Kuncheng Li, and Hesheng Liu. 2016. Identifying Shared Brain Networks in Individuals by Decoupling Functional and Anatomical Variability. Cereb Cortex, 26, 10, Pp. 4004-14.

The connectivity architecture of the human brain varies across individuals. Mapping functional anatomy at the individual level is challenging, but critical for basic neuroscience research and clinical intervention. Using resting-state functional connectivity, we parcellated functional systems in an "embedding space" based on functional characteristics common across the population, while simultaneously accounting for individual variability in the cortical distribution of functional units. The functional connectivity patterns observed in resting-state data were mapped in the embedding space and the maps were aligned across individuals. A clustering algorithm was performed on the aligned embedding maps and the resulting clusters were transformed back to the unique anatomical space of each individual. This novel approach identified functional systems that were reproducible within subjects, but were distributed across different anatomical locations in different subjects. Using this approach for intersubject alignment improved the predictability of individual differences in language laterality when compared with anatomical alignment alone. Our results further revealed that the strength of association between function and macroanatomy varied across the cortex, which was strong in unimodal sensorimotor networks, but weak in association networks.

Zhang Fan, Savadjev Peter, Weidong Cai, Yang Song, Ragini Verma, Westin Carl-Fredrik, and Lauren J O Donnell. 2016. Fiber Clustering Based White Matter Connectivity Analysis for Prediction of Autism Spectrum Disorder using Diffusion Tensor Imaging. IEEE Int Symp Biomed Imaging.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been suggested to associate with alterations in brain connectivity. In this study, we focus on a fiber clustering tractography segmentation strategy to observe white matter connectivity alterations in ASD. Compared to another popular parcellation-based approach for tractography segmentation based on cortical regions, we hypothesized that the clustering-based method could provide a more anatomically correspondent division of white matter. We applied this strategy to conduct a population-based group statistical analysis for the automated prediction of ASD. We obtained a maximum classification accuracy of 81.33% be- tween ASDs and controls, compared to the results of 78.00% from the parcellation-based method. 

Zhenrui Chen, Yanmei Tie, Olutayo Olubiyi, and Lauren O Donnell. 2016. Corticospinal Tract Modeling for Neurosurgical Planning by Tracking through Regions of Peritumoral Edema and Crossing Fibers using Two-Tensor Unscented Kalman Filter Tractography. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg, 11, 8, Pp. 1475-86.
PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to present a tractography algorithm using a two-tensor unscented Kalman filter (UKF) to improve the modeling of the corticospinal tract (CST) by tracking through regions of peritumoral edema and crossing fibers.METHODS: Ten patients with brain tumors in the vicinity of motor cortex and evidence of significant peritumoral edema were retrospectively selected for the study. All patients underwent 3-T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) including functional MRI (fMRI) and a diffusion-weighted data set with 31 directions. Fiber tracking was performed using both single-tensor streamline and two-tensor UKF tractography methods. A two-region-of-interest approach was used to delineate the CST. Results from the two tractography methods were compared visually and quantitatively. fMRI was applied to identify the functional fiber tracts.RESULTS: Single-tensor streamline tractography underestimated the extent of tracts running through the edematous areas and could only track the medial projections of the CST. In contrast, two-tensor UKF tractography tracked fanning projections of the CST despite peritumoral edema and crossing fibers. Based on visual inspection, the two-tensor UKF tractography delineated tracts that were closer to motor fMRI activations, and it was apparently more sensitive than single-tensor streamline tractography to define the tracts directed to the motor sites. The volume of the CST was significantly larger on two-tensor UKF than on single-tensor streamline tractography ([Formula: see text]).CONCLUSION: Two-tensor UKF tractography tracks a larger volume CST than single-tensor streamline tractography in the setting of peritumoral edema and crossing fibers in brain tumor patients.
Daniel S Margulies, Satrajit S Ghosh, Alexandros Goulas, Marcel Falkiewicz, Julia M Huntenburg, Georg Langs, Gleb Bezgin, Simon B Eickhoff, F, Michael Petrides, Elizabeth Jefferies, and Jonathan Smallwood. 2016. Situating the Default-mode Network along a Principal Gradient of Macroscale Cortical Organization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113, 44, Pp. 12574-9.
Understanding how the structure of cognition arises from the topographical organization of the cortex is a primary goal in neuroscience. Previous work has described local functional gradients extending from perceptual and motor regions to cortical areas representing more abstract functions, but an overarching framework for the association between structure and function is still lacking. Here, we show that the principal gradient revealed by the decomposition of connectivity data in humans and the macaque monkey is anchored by, at one end, regions serving primary sensory/motor functions and at the other end, transmodal regions that, in humans, are known as the default-mode network (DMN). These DMN regions exhibit the greatest geodesic distance along the cortical surface-and are precisely equidistant-from primary sensory/motor morphological landmarks. The principal gradient also provides an organizing spatial framework for multiple large-scale networks and characterizes a spectrum from unimodal to heteromodal activity in a functional metaanalysis. Together, these observations provide a characterization of the topographical organization of cortex and indicate that the role of the DMN in cognition might arise from its position at one extreme of a hierarchy, allowing it to process transmodal information that is unrelated to immediate sensory input.