Estimating sparse functional brain networks with spatial constraints for MCI identification

Yanfang Xue, Limei Zhang, Lishan Qiao, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Functional brain network (FBN), estimated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has become a potentially useful way of diagnosing neurological disorders in their early stages by comparing the connectivity patterns between different brain regions across subjects. However, this depends, to a great extent, on the quality of the estimated FBNs, indicating that FBN estimation is a key step for the subsequent task of disorder identification. In the past decades, researchers have developed many methods to estimate FBNs, including Pearson's correlation and (regularized) partial correlation, etc. Despite their widespread applications in current studies, most of the existing methods estimate FBNs only based on the dependency between the measured blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals, which ignores spatial relationship of signals associated with different brain regions. Due to the space and material parsimony principle of our brain, we believe that the spatial distance between brain regions has an important influence on FBN topology. Therefore, in this paper, we assume that spatially neighboring brain regions tend to have stronger connections and/ or share similar connections with others; based on this assumption, we propose two novel methods to estimate FBNs by incorporating the information of brain region distance into the estimation model. To validate the effectiveness of the proposed methods, we use the estimated FBNs to identify subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) from normal controls (NCs). Experimental results show that the proposed methods are better than the baseline methods in the sense of MCI identification accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0235039
JournalPloS one
Issue number7 July
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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