Remodeling pearson’s correlation for functional brain network estimation and autism spectrum disorder identification

Weikai Li, Zhengxia Wang, Limei Zhang, Lishan Qiao, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Functional brain network (FBN) has been becoming an increasingly important way to model the statistical dependence among neural time courses of brain, and provides effective imaging biomarkers for diagnosis of some neurological or psychological disorders. Currently, Pearson’s Correlation (PC) is the simplest and most widely-used method in constructing FBNs. Despite its advantages in statistical meaning and calculated performance, the PC tends to result in a FBN with dense connections. Therefore, in practice, the PC-based FBN needs to be sparsified by removing weak (potential noisy) connections. However, such a scheme depends on a hard-threshold without enough flexibility. Different from this traditional strategy, in this paper, we propose a new approach for estimating FBNs by remodeling PC as an optimization problem, which provides a way to incorporate biological/physical priors into the FBNs. In particular, we introduce an L1-norm regularizer into the optimization model for obtaining a sparse solution. Compared with the hard-threshold scheme, the proposed framework gives an elegantmathematical formulation for sparsifying PC-based networks.More importantly, it provides a platform to encode other biological/physical priors into the PC-based FBNs. To further illustrate the flexibility of the proposed method, we extend the model to a weighted counterpart for learning both sparse and scale-free networks, and then conduct experiments to identify autismspectrumdisorders (ASD) fromnormal controls (NC) based on the constructed FBNs. Consequently, we achieved an 81.52%classification accuracy which outperforms the baseline and state-of-the-art methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalFrontiers in Neuroinformatics
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug 31

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Cessac, Kornprobst, Kraria, Nasser, Pamplona, Portelli and Viéville.


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Functional brain network
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Pearson’s correlation
  • Scale-free
  • Sparse representation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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