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Separating Stimulus-Induced and Background Components of Dynamic Functional Connectivity in Naturalistic fMRI

by   Chee-Ming Ting, et al.
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Monash University
The University of Texas at Dallas

We consider the challenges in extracting stimulus-related neural dynamics from other intrinsic processes and noise in naturalistic functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Most studies rely on inter-subject correlations (ISC) of low-level regional activity and neglect varying responses in individuals. We propose a novel, data-driven approach based on low-rank plus sparse (L+S) decomposition to isolate stimulus-driven dynamic changes in brain functional connectivity (FC) from the background noise, by exploiting shared network structure among subjects receiving the same naturalistic stimuli. The time-resolved multi-subject FC matrices are modeled as a sum of a low-rank component of correlated FC patterns across subjects, and a sparse component of subject-specific, idiosyncratic background activities. To recover the shared low-rank subspace, we introduce a fused version of principal component pursuit (PCP) by adding a fusion-type penalty on the differences between the rows of the low-rank matrix. The method improves the detection of stimulus-induced group-level homogeneity in the FC profile while capturing inter-subject variability. We develop an efficient algorithm via a linearized alternating direction method of multipliers to solve the fused-PCP. Simulations show accurate recovery by the fused-PCP even when a large fraction of FC edges are severely corrupted. When applied to natural fMRI data, our method reveals FC changes that were time-locked to auditory processing during movie watching, with dynamic engagement of sensorimotor systems for speech-in-noise. It also provides a better mapping to auditory content in the movie than ISC.


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