Virtual Connectomic Datasets in Alzheimer's Disease and Aging Using Whole-Brain Network Dynamics Modelling
Large neuroimaging datasets, including information about structural connectivity (SC) and functional connectivity (FC), play an increasingly important role in clinical research, where they guide the design of algorithms for automated stratification, diagnosis or prediction. A major obstacle is, however, the problem of missing features [e.g., lack of concurrent DTI SC and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) FC measurements for many of the subjects]. We propose here to address the missing connectivity features problem by introducing strategies based on computational whole-brain network modeling. Using two datasets, the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) dataset and a healthy aging dataset, for proof-of-concept, we demonstrate the feasibility of virtual data completion (i.e., inferring ""virtual FC"" from empirical SC or ""virtual SC"" from empirical FC), by using self-consistent simulations of linear and nonlinear brain network models. Furthermore, by performing machine learning classification (to separate age classes or control from patient subjects), we show that algorithms trained on virtual connectomes achieve discrimination performance comparable to when trained on actual empirical data; similarly, algorithms trained on virtual connectomes can be used to successfully classify novel empirical connectomes. Completion algorithms can be combined and reiterated to generate realistic surrogate connectivity matrices in arbitrarily large number, opening the way to the generation of virtual connectomic datasets with network connectivity information comparable to the one of the original data.