Measuring Asymmetric Interactions in Resting State Brain Networks
Directed graph representations of brain networks are increasingly being used to indicate the direction and level of influence among brain regions. Most of the existing techniques for directed graph representations are based on time series analysis and the concept of causality, and use time lag information in the brain signals. These time lag-based techniques can be inadequate for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signal analysis due to the limited time resolution of fMRI as well as the low frequency hemodynamic response. The aim of this paper is to present a novel measure of necessity that uses asymmetry in the joint distribution of brain activations to infer the direction and level of interaction among brain regions. We present a mathematical formula for computing necessity and extend this measure to partial necessity, which can potentially distinguish between direct and indirect interactions. These measures do not depend on time lag for directed modeling of brain interactions and therefore are more suitable for fMRI signal analysis. The necessity measures were used to analyze resting state fMRI data to determine the presence of hierarchy and asymmetry of brain interactions during resting state. We performed ROI-wise analysis using the proposed necessity measures to study the default mode network. The empirical joint distribution of the fMRI signals was determined using kernel density estimation, and was used for computation of the necessity and partial necessity measures. The significance of these measures was determined using a one-sided Wilcoxon rank-sum test. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the posterior cingulate cortex plays a central role in the default mode network.
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