Deconvolution of High Dimensional Mixtures via Boosting, with Application to Diffusion-Weighted MRI of Human Brain

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS 2014)

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Charles Y. Zheng, Franco Pestilli, Ariel Rokem


Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) and fiber tractography are the only methods to measure the structure of the white matter in the living human brain. The diffusion signal has been modelled as the combined contribution from many individual fascicles of nerve fibers passing through each location in the white matter. Typically, this is done via basis pursuit, but estimation of the exact directions is limited due to discretization. The difficulties inherent in modeling DWI data are shared by many other problems involving fitting non-parametric mixture models. Ekanadaham et al. proposed an approach, continuous basis pursuit, to overcome discretization error in the 1-dimensional case (e.g., spike-sorting). Here, we propose a more general algorithm that fits mixture models of any dimensionality without discretization. Our algorithm uses the principles of L2-boost, together with refitting of the weights and pruning of the parameters. The addition of these steps to L2-boost both accelerates the algorithm and assures its accuracy. We refer to the resulting algorithm as elastic basis pursuit, or EBP, since it expands and contracts the active set of kernels as needed. We show that in contrast to existing approaches to fitting mixtures, our boosting framework (1) enables the selection of the optimal bias-variance tradeoff along the solution path, and (2) scales with high-dimensional problems. In simulations of DWI, we find that EBP yields better parameter estimates than a non-negative least squares (NNLS) approach, or the standard model used in DWI, the tensor model, which serves as the basis for diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We demonstrate the utility of the method in DWI data acquired in parts of the brain containing crossings of multiple fascicles of nerve fibers.