The holy grail of brain imaging is the identification of a biomarker, which can identify an abnormality that can be used to diagnose disease and track the effectiveness of treatment and disease progression. Typically approaches that search for biomarkers start by identifying mean differences between groups of patients and healthy controls. However, combining data from different subjects and groups to be able to make meaningful inferences is not trivial. The structure of the brain in each individual is unique in size and shape as well as in the relative location of anatomical landmarks (e.g. sulci and gyri). When looking for mean differences in functional images, this issue is exacerbated by the presence of variability in functional localization, i.e. variability in the location of functional regions in the brain. This is notably an important reason to focus on looking for inter-individual differences or variability.
Inter-subject variability in neuroimaging experiments is often viewed as noise. The analyses are setup in a manner to ignore this variability assuming that a global spatial normalization brings the data into the same space. Nonetheless, functional activation patterns can be impacted by variability in multiple ways for e.g., there could be spatial variability of the maps or variability in the spectral composition of the timecourses or variability in the connectivity between the activation patterns identified. The overarching problem this thesis seeks to contribute to, is seeking improved measures to quantify biologically significant spatial, spectral and connectivity based variability and to identify associated cognitive or behavioral differences in the distribution of brain networks. We have successfully shown that different (spatial and spectral) measures of variability in blind source separated functional activation patterns underline previously unexplained characteristics that help in discerning schizophrenia patients from healthy controls. Additionally, we show that variance measures in dynamic connectivity between networks in healthy controls can justify relationship between connectivity patterns and executive functioning abilities.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Brain--Imaging--Quality control; Blind source separation
Imaging Science (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)
Gopal Vij, Shruti, "Intrinsic Inter-Subject Variability in Functional Neuroimaging: Verification Using Blind Source Separation Features" (2016). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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