A joint structural-functional brain network model is presented, which enables the discovery of function-specific brain circuits, and recovers structural connections that are under-estimated by diffusion MRI (dMRI). Incorporating information from functional MRI (fMRI) into diffusion MRI to estimate brain circuits is a challenging task. Usually, seed regions for tractography are selected from fMRI activation maps to extract the white matter pathways of interest. The proposed method jointly analyzes whole brain dMRI and fMRI data, allowing the estimation of complete function-specific structural networks instead of interactively investigating the connectivity of individual cortical/sub-cortical areas. Additionally, tractography techniques are prone to limitations, which can result in erroneous pathways. The proposed framework explicitly models the interactions between structural and functional connectivity measures thereby improving anatomical circuit estimation. Results on Human Connectome Project (HCP) data demonstrate the benefits of the approach by successfully identifying function-specific anatomical circuits, such as the language and resting-state networks. In contrast to correlation-based or independent component analysis (ICA) functional connectivity mapping, detailed anatomical connectivity patterns are revealed for each functional module. Results on a phantom (Fibercup) also indicate improvements in structural connectivity mapping by rejecting false-positive connections with insufficient support from fMRI, and enhancing under-estimated connectivity with strong functional correlation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Data were provided in part by the Human Connectome Project, WU-Minn Consortium (Principal Investigators: David Van Essen and Kamil Ugurbil; 1U54MH091657) funded by the 16 NIH Institutes and Centers that support the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research; and by the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University. The work was partly supported by NIH grants P41 EB015894, P30 NS076408, and R01 EB008432.