Learning and Combining Image Similarities for Neonatal Brain Population Studies
The characterization of neurodevelopment is challenging due to the complex structural changes of the brain in early childhood. To analyze the changes in a population across time and to relate them with clinical information, manifold learning techniques can be applied. The neighborhood definition used for constructing manifold representations of the population is crucial for preserving the similarity structure in the embedding and highly application dependent. It has been shown that the combination of several notions of similarity and features can improve the new representation. However, how to combine and weight different similarites and features is non-trivial. In this work, we propose to learn the neighborhood structure and similarity measure used for manifold learning through Neighborhood Approximation Forests (NAFs). The recently proposed NAFs learn a neighborhood structure in a dataset based on a user-defined distance. A characterization of image similarity using NAFs enables us to construct manifold representations based on a previously defined criterion to improve predictions regarding structural and clinical information. In particular, NAFs can be used naturally to combine the affinities learned from multiple distances in a joint manifold towards a more meaningful representation and an improved characterization of the resulting embedding. We demonstrate the utility of NAFs in manifold learning on a population of preterm and in term neonates for classification regarding structural volume and clinical information.
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