Learning Macroscopic Brain Connectomes via Group-Sparse Factorization

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32 (NeurIPS 2019)

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Farzane Aminmansour, Andrew Patterson, Lei Le, Yisu Peng, Daniel Mitchell, Franco Pestilli, Cesar F. Caiafa, Russell Greiner, Martha White


Mapping structural brain connectomes for living human brains typically requires expert analysis and rule-based models on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. A data-driven approach, however, could overcome limitations in such rule-based approaches and improve precision mappings for individuals. In this work, we explore a framework that facilitates applying learning algorithms to automatically extract brain connectomes. Using a tensor encoding, we design an objective with a group-regularizer that prefers biologically plausible fascicle structure. We show that the objective is convex and has unique solutions, ensuring identifiable connectomes for an individual. We develop an efficient optimization strategy for this extremely high-dimensional sparse problem, by reducing the number of parameters using a greedy algorithm designed specifically for the problem. We show that this greedy algorithm significantly improves on a standard greedy algorithm, called Orthogonal Matching Pursuit. We conclude with an analysis of the solutions found by our method, showing we can accurately reconstruct the diffusion information while maintaining contiguous fascicles with smooth direction changes.