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A Two-Part Mixed-Effects Modeling Framework For Analyzing Whole-Brain Network Data

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      Abstract

      Whole-brain network analyses remain the vanguard in neuroimaging research, coming to prominence within the last decade. Network science approaches have facilitated these analyses and allowed examining the brain as an integrated system. However, statistical methods for modeling and comparing groups of networks have lagged behind. Fusing multivariate statistical approaches with network science presents the best path to develop these methods. Toward this end, we propose a two-part mixed-effects modeling framework that allows modeling both the probability of a connection (presence/absence of an edge) and the strength of a connection if it exists. Models within this framework enable quantifying the relationship between an outcome (e.g., disease status) and connectivity patterns in the brain while reducing spurious correlations through inclusion of confounding covariates. They also enable prediction about an outcome based on connectivity structure and vice versa, simulating networks to gain a better understanding of normal ranges of topological variability, and thresholding networks leveraging group information. Thus, they provide a comprehensive approach to studying system level brain properties to further our understanding of normal and abnormal brain function.

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      An anatomical parcellation of the spatially normalized single-subject high-resolution T1 volume provided by the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) (D. L. Collins et al., 1998, Trans. Med. Imag. 17, 463-468) was performed. The MNI single-subject main sulci were first delineated and further used as landmarks for the 3D definition of 45 anatomical volumes of interest (AVOI) in each hemisphere. This procedure was performed using a dedicated software which allowed a 3D following of the sulci course on the edited brain. Regions of interest were then drawn manually with the same software every 2 mm on the axial slices of the high-resolution MNI single subject. The 90 AVOI were reconstructed and assigned a label. Using this parcellation method, three procedures to perform the automated anatomical labeling of functional studies are proposed: (1) labeling of an extremum defined by a set of coordinates, (2) percentage of voxels belonging to each of the AVOI intersected by a sphere centered by a set of coordinates, and (3) percentage of voxels belonging to each of the AVOI intersected by an activated cluster. An interface with the Statistical Parametric Mapping package (SPM, J. Ashburner and K. J. Friston, 1999, Hum. Brain Mapp. 7, 254-266) is provided as a freeware to researchers of the neuroimaging community. We believe that this tool is an improvement for the macroscopical labeling of activated area compared to labeling assessed using the Talairach atlas brain in which deformations are well known. However, this tool does not alleviate the need for more sophisticated labeling strategies based on anatomical or cytoarchitectonic probabilistic maps.
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        Recent developments in the quantitative analysis of complex networks, based largely on graph theory, have been rapidly translated to studies of brain network organization. The brain's structural and functional systems have features of complex networks--such as small-world topology, highly connected hubs and modularity--both at the whole-brain scale of human neuroimaging and at a cellular scale in non-human animals. In this article, we review studies investigating complex brain networks in diverse experimental modalities (including structural and functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, magnetoencephalography and electroencephalography in humans) and provide an accessible introduction to the basic principles of graph theory. We also highlight some of the technical challenges and key questions to be addressed by future developments in this rapidly moving field.
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          Complex network measures of brain connectivity: uses and interpretations.

          Brain connectivity datasets comprise networks of brain regions connected by anatomical tracts or by functional associations. Complex network analysis-a new multidisciplinary approach to the study of complex systems-aims to characterize these brain networks with a small number of neurobiologically meaningful and easily computable measures. In this article, we discuss construction of brain networks from connectivity data and describe the most commonly used network measures of structural and functional connectivity. We describe measures that variously detect functional integration and segregation, quantify centrality of individual brain regions or pathways, characterize patterns of local anatomical circuitry, and test resilience of networks to insult. We discuss the issues surrounding comparison of structural and functional network connectivity, as well as comparison of networks across subjects. Finally, we describe a Matlab toolbox (http://www.brain-connectivity-toolbox.net) accompanying this article and containing a collection of complex network measures and large-scale neuroanatomical connectivity datasets. Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            1409.7086

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