Unsupervised spatiotemporal analysis of FMRI data using graph-based visualizations of self-organizing maps.

IEEE transactions on bio-medical engineering

PubMedID: 23613020

Katwal SB, Gore JC, Marois R, Rogers BP. Unsupervised spatiotemporal analysis of FMRI data using graph-based visualizations of self-organizing maps. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2013;60(9):2472-83.
We present novel graph-based visualizations of self-organizing maps for unsupervised functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis. A self-organizing map is an artificial neural network model that transforms high-dimensional data into a low-dimensional (often a 2-D) map using unsupervised learning. However, a postprocessing scheme is necessary to correctly interpret similarity between neighboring node prototypes (feature vectors) on the output map and delineate clusters and features of interest in the data. In this paper, we used graph-based visualizations to capture fMRI data features based upon 1) the distribution of data across the receptive fields of the prototypes (density-based connectivity); and 2) temporal similarities (correlations) between the prototypes (correlation-based connectivity). We applied this approach to identify task-related brain areas in an fMRI reaction time experiment involving a visuo-manual response task, and we correlated the time-to-peak of the fMRI responses in these areas with reaction time. Visualization of self-organizing maps outperformed independent component analysis and voxelwise univariate linear regression analysis in identifying and classifying relevant brain regions. We conclude that the graph-based visualizations of self-organizing maps help in advanced visualization of cluster boundaries in fMRI data enabling the separation of regions with small differences in the timings of their brain responses.