Shared Space Transfer Learning for analyzing multi-site fMRI data

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Tony Muhammad Yousefnezhad, Alessandro Selvitella, Daoqiang Zhang, Andrew Greenshaw, Russell Greiner


Multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) learns predictive models from task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, for distinguishing when subjects are performing different cognitive tasks — e.g., watching movies or making decisions. MVPA works best with a well-designed feature set and an adequate sample size. However, most fMRI datasets are noisy, high-dimensional, expensive to collect, and with small sample sizes. Further, training a robust, generalized predictive model that can analyze homogeneous cognitive tasks provided by multi-site fMRI datasets has additional challenges. This paper proposes the Shared Space Transfer Learning (SSTL) as a novel transfer learning (TL) approach that can functionally align homogeneous multi-site fMRI datasets, and so improve the prediction performance in every site. SSTL first extracts a set of common features for all subjects in each site. It then uses TL to map these site-specific features to a site-independent shared space in order to improve the performance of the MVPA. SSTL uses a scalable optimization procedure that works effectively for high-dimensional fMRI datasets. The optimization procedure extracts the common features for each site by using a single-iteration algorithm and maps these site-specific common features to the site-independent shared space. We evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed method for transferring between various cognitive tasks. Our comprehensive experiments validate that SSTL achieves superior performance to other state-of-the-art analysis techniques.