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Distance Correlation Based Brain Functional Connectivity Estimation and Non-Convex Multi-Task Learning for Developmental fMRI Studies

by   Li Xiao, et al.

Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI)-derived functional connectivity patterns have been extensively utilized to delineate global functional organization of the human brain in health, development, and neuropsychiatric disorders. In this paper, we investigate how functional connectivity in males and females differs in an age prediction framework. We first estimate functional connectivity between regions-of-interest (ROIs) using distance correlation instead of Pearson's correlation. Distance correlation, as a multivariate statistical method, explores spatial relations of voxel-wise time courses within individual ROIs and measures both linear and nonlinear dependence, capturing more complex information of between-ROI interactions. Then, a novel non-convex multi-task learning (NC-MTL) model is proposed to study age-related gender differences in functional connectivity, where age prediction for each gender group is viewed as one task. Specifically, in the proposed NC-MTL model, we introduce a composite regularizer with a combination of non-convex ℓ_2,1-2 and ℓ_1-2 regularization terms for selecting both common and task-specific features. Finally, we validate the proposed NC-MTL model along with distance correlation based functional connectivity on rs-fMRI of the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort for predicting ages of both genders. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed NC-MTL model outperforms other competing MTL models in age prediction, as well as characterizing developmental gender differences in functional connectivity patterns.


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