Anatomical Pattern Analysis for decoding visual stimuli in human brains Machine Learning

Background: A universal unanswered question in neuroscience and machine learning is whether computers can decode the patterns of the human brain. Multi-Voxels Pattern Analysis (MVPA) is a critical tool for addressing this question. However, there are two challenges in the previous MVPA methods, which include decreasing sparsity and noise in the extracted features and increasing the performance of prediction. Methods: In overcoming mentioned challenges, this paper proposes Anatomical Pattern Analysis (APA) for decoding visual stimuli in the human brain. This framework develops a novel anatomical feature extraction method and a new imbalance AdaBoost algorithm for binary classification. Further, it utilizes an Error-Correcting Output Codes (ECOC) method for multiclass prediction. APA can automatically detect active regions for each category of the visual stimuli. Moreover, it enables us to combine homogeneous datasets for applying advanced classification. Results and Conclusions: Experimental studies on 4 visual categories (words, consonants, objects and scrambled photos) demonstrate that the proposed approach achieves superior performance to state-of-the-art methods.

Categories and Functional Units: An Infinite Hierarchical Model for Brain Activations

Neural Information Processing Systems

We present a model that describes the structure in the responses of different brain areas to a set of stimuli in terms of stimulus categories" (clusters of stimuli) and "functional units" (clusters of voxels). We assume that voxels within a unit respond similarly to all stimuli from the same category, and design a nonparametric hierarchical model to capture inter-subject variability among the units. The model explicitly captures the relationship between brain activations and fMRI time courses. A variational inference algorithm derived based on the model can learn categories, units, and a set of unit-category activation probabilities from data. When applied to data from an fMRI study of object recognition, the method finds meaningful and consistent clusterings of stimuli into categories and voxels into units."

An encoding framework with brain inner state for natural image identification Machine Learning

Neural encoding and decoding, which aim to characterize the relationship between stimuli and brain activities, have emerged as an important area in cognitive neuroscience. Traditional encoding models, which focus on feature extraction and mapping, consider the brain as an input-output mapper without inner states. In this work, inspired by the fact that human brain acts like a state machine, we proposed a novel encoding framework that combines information from both the external world and the inner state to predict brain activity. The framework comprises two parts: forward encoding model that deals with visual stimuli and inner state model that captures influence from intrinsic connections in the brain. The forward model can be any traditional encoding model, making the framework flexible. The inner state model is a linear model to utilize information in the prediction residuals of the forward model. The proposed encoding framework can achieve much better performance on natural image identification from fMRI response than forwardonly models. The identification accuracy will decrease slightly with the dataset size increasing, but remain relatively stable with different identification methods. The results confirm that the new encoding framework is effective and robust when used for brain decoding.

Locally-Optimized Inter-Subject Alignment of Functional Cortical Regions Machine Learning

Inter-subject registration of cortical areas is necessary in functional imaging (fMRI) studies for making inferences about equivalent brain function across a population. However, many high-level visual brain areas are defined as peaks of functional contrasts whose cortical position is highly variable. As such, most alignment methods fail to accurately map functional regions of interest (ROIs) across participants. To address this problem, we propose a locally optimized registration method that directly predicts the location of a seed ROI on a separate target cortical sheet by maximizing the functional correlation between their time courses, while simultaneously allowing for non-smooth local deformations in region topology. Our method outperforms the two most commonly used alternatives (anatomical landmark-based AFNI alignment and cortical convexity-based FreeSurfer alignment) in overlap between predicted region and functionally-defined LOC. Furthermore, the maps obtained using our method are more consistent across subjects than both baseline measures. Critically, our method represents an important step forward towards predicting brain regions without explicit localizer scans and deciphering the poorly understood relationship between the location of functional regions, their anatomical extent, and the consistency of computations those regions perform across people.