Shuai Huang, Jing Li, Liang Sun, Jun Liu, Teresa Wu, Kewei Chen, Adam Fleisher, Eric Reiman, Jieping Ye
Recent advances in neuroimaging techniques provide great potentials for effective diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. Previous studies have shown that AD is closely related to alternation in the functional brain network, i.e., the functional connectivity among different brain regions. In this paper, we consider the problem of learning functional brain connectivity from neuroimaging, which holds great promise for identifying image-based markers used to distinguish Normal Controls (NC), patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and patients with AD. More specifically, we study sparse inverse covariance estimation (SICE), also known as exploratory Gaussian graphical models, for brain connectivity modeling. In particular, we apply SICE to learn and analyze functional brain connectivity patterns from different subject groups, based on a key property of SICE, called the “monotone property” we established in this paper. Our experimental results on neuroimaging PET data of 42 AD, 116 MCI, and 67 NC subjects reveal several interesting connectivity patterns consistent with literature findings, and also some new patterns that can help the knowledge discovery of AD.