Hierarchical modelling of functional brain networks in population and individuals from big fMRI data

Seyedeh Rezvan Farahibozorg, Janine D. Bijsterbosch, Weikang Gong, Saad Jbabdi, Stephen M. Smith, Samuel J. Harrison, Mark W. Woolrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A major goal of large-scale brain imaging datasets is to provide resources for investigating heterogeneous populations. Characterisation of functional brain networks for individual subjects from these datasets will have an enormous potential for prediction of cognitive or clinical traits. We propose for the first time a technique, Stochastic Probabilistic Functional Modes (sPROFUMO), that is scalable to UK Biobank (UKB) with expected 100,000 participants, and hierarchically estimates functional brain networks in individuals and the population, while allowing for bidirectional flow of information between the two. Using simulations, we show the model's utility, especially in scenarios that involve significant cross-subject variability, or require delineation of fine-grained differences between the networks. Subsequently, by applying the model to resting-state fMRI from 4999 UKB subjects, we mapped resting state networks (RSNs) in single subjects with greater detail than has been possible previously in UKB (>100 RSNs), and demonstrate that these RSNs can predict a range of sensorimotor and higher-level cognitive functions. Furthermore, we demonstrate several advantages of the model over independent component analysis combined with dual-regression (ICA-DR), particularly with respect to the estimation of the spatial configuration of the RSNs and the predictive power for cognitive traits. The proposed model and results can open a new door for future investigations into individualised profiles of brain function from big data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118513
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Big data fMRI
  • Cognition prediction
  • Hierarchical network modelling
  • Resting state networks
  • Single subject connectivity
  • Stochastic inference


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