Health Care Technology


Continuous Time Particle Filtering for fMRI

Neural Information Processing Systems

We construct a biologically motivated stochastic differential model of the neural and hemodynamic activity underlying the observed Blood Oxygen Level Dependent (BOLD) signal in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The model poses a difficult parameter estimation problem, both theoretically due to the nonlinearity and divergence of the differential system, and computationally due to its time and space complexity. We adapt a particle filter and smoother to the task, and discuss some of the practical approaches used to tackle the difficulties, including use of sparse matrices and parallelisation. Results demonstrate the tractability of the approach in its application to an effective connectivity study. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Locality and low-dimensions in the prediction of natural experience from fMRI

Neural Information Processing Systems

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) provides an unprecedented window into the complex functioning of the human brain, typically detailing the activity of thousands of voxels during hundreds of sequential time points. Unfortunately, the interpretation of fMRI is complicated due both to the relatively unknown connection between the hemodynamic response and neural activity and the unknown spatiotemporal characteristics of the cognitive patterns themselves. Here, we use data from the Experience Based Cognition competition to compare global and local methods of prediction applying both linear and nonlinear techniques of dimensionality reduction. We build global low dimensional representations of an fMRI dataset, using linear and nonlinear methods. We learn a set of time series that are implicit functions of the fMRI data, and predict the values of these times series in the future from the knowledge of the fMRI data only.


Predicting Brain States from fMRI Data: Incremental Functional Principal Component Regression

Neural Information Processing Systems

We propose a method for reconstruction of human brain states directly from functional neuroimaging data. The method extends the traditional multivariate regression analysis of discretized fMRI data to the domain of stochastic functional measurements, facilitating evaluation of brain responses to naturalistic stimuli and boosting the power of functional imaging. Population based incremental learning is used to search for spatially distributed voxel clusters, taking into account the variation in Haemodynamic lag across brain areas and among subjects by voxel-wise non-linear registration of stimuli to fMRI data. The method captures spatially distributed brain responses to naturalistic stimuli without attempting to localize function. Application of the method for prediction of naturalistic stimuli from new and unknown fMRI data shows that the approach is capable of identifying distributed clusters of brain locations that are highly predictive of a specific stimuli.


A systematic approach to extracting semantic information from functional MRI data

Neural Information Processing Systems

This paper introduces a novel classification method for functional magnetic resonance imaging datasets with tens of classes. The method is designed to make predictions using information from as many brain locations as possible, instead of resorting to feature selection, and does this by decomposing the pattern of brain activation into differently informative sub-regions. We provide results over a complex semantic processing dataset that show that the method is competitive with state-of-the-art feature selection and also suggest how the method may be used to perform group or exploratory analyses of complex class structure. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Augmenting Feature-driven fMRI Analyses: Semi-supervised learning and resting state activity

Neural Information Processing Systems

Resting state activity is brain activation that arises in the absence of any task, and is usually measured in awake subjects during prolonged fMRI scanning sessions where the only instruction given is to close the eyes and do nothing. It has been recognized in recent years that resting state activity is implicated in a wide variety of brain function. While certain networks of brain areas have different levels of activation at rest and during a task, there is nevertheless significant similarity between activations in the two cases. This suggests that recordings of resting state activity can be used as a source of unlabeled data to augment discriminative regression techniques in a semi-supervised setting. We evaluate this setting empirically yielding three main results: (i) regression tends to be improved by the use of Laplacian regularization even when no additional unlabeled data are available, (ii) resting state data may have a similar marginal distribution to that recorded during the execution of a visual processing task reinforcing the hypothesis that these conditions have similar types of activation, and (iii) this source of information can be broadly exploited to improve the robustness of empirical inference in fMRI studies, an inherently data poor domain.


Inducing brain-relevant bias in natural language processing models

Neural Information Processing Systems

Progress in natural language processing (NLP) models that estimate representations of word sequences has recently been leveraged to improve the understanding of language processing in the brain. However, these models have not been specifically designed to capture the way the brain represents language meaning. We hypothesize that fine-tuning these models to predict recordings of brain activity of people reading text will lead to representations that encode more brain-activity-relevant language information. We demonstrate that a version of BERT, a recently introduced and powerful language model, can improve the prediction of brain activity after fine-tuning. We show that the relationship between language and brain activity learned by BERT during this fine-tuning transfers across multiple participants.


Input-Cell Attention Reduces Vanishing Saliency of Recurrent Neural Networks

Neural Information Processing Systems

Recent efforts to improve the interpretability of deep neural networks use saliency to characterize the importance of input features to predictions made by models. Work on interpretability using saliency-based methods on Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) has mostly targeted language tasks, and their applicability to time series data is less understood. In this work we analyze saliency-based methods for RNNs, both classical and gated cell architectures. We show that RNN saliency vanishes over time, biasing detection of salient features only to later time steps and are, therefore, incapable of reliably detecting important features at arbitrary time intervals. To address this vanishing saliency problem, we propose a novel RNN cell structure (input-cell attention), which can extend any RNN cell architecture.


Sparse Overlapping Sets Lasso for Multitask Learning and its Application to fMRI Analysis

Neural Information Processing Systems

Multitask learning can be effective when features useful in one task are also useful for other tasks, and the group lasso is a standard method for selecting a common subset of features. In this paper, we are interested in a less restrictive form of multitask learning, wherein (1) the available features can be organized into subsets according to a notion of similarity and (2) features useful in one task are similar, but not necessarily identical, to the features best suited for other tasks. The main contribution of this paper is a new procedure called {\em Sparse Overlapping Sets (SOS) lasso}, a convex optimization that automatically selects similar features for related learning tasks. Error bounds are derived for SOSlasso and its consistency is established for squared error loss. In particular, SOSlasso is motivated by multi-subject fMRI studies in which functional activity is classified using brain voxels as features.


Balanced Policy Evaluation and Learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

We present a new approach to the problems of evaluating and learning personalized decision policies from observational data of past contexts, decisions, and outcomes. Only the outcome of the enacted decision is available and the historical policy is unknown. These problems arise in personalized medicine using electronic health records and in internet advertising. Existing approaches use inverse propensity weighting (or, doubly robust versions) to make historical outcome (or, residual) data look like it were generated by a new policy being evaluated or learned. But this relies on a plug-in approach that rejects data points with a decision that disagrees with the new policy, leading to high variance estimates and ineffective learning.


A Statistical Recurrent Model on the Manifold of Symmetric Positive Definite Matrices

Neural Information Processing Systems

In a number of disciplines, the data (e.g., graphs, manifolds) to be analyzed are non-Euclidean in nature. Geometric deep learning corresponds to techniques that generalize deep neural network models to such non-Euclidean spaces. Several recent papers have shown how convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can be extended to learn with graph-based data. In this work, we study the setting where the data (or measurements) are ordered, longitudinal or temporal in nature and live on a Riemannian manifold -- this setting is common in a variety of problems in statistical machine learning, vision and medical imaging. We show how recurrent statistical recurrent network models can be defined in such spaces.