Tagged magnetic resonance imaging (tMRI) has been employed for decades to measure the motion of tissue undergoing deformation. However, registration-based motion estimation from tMRI is difficult due to the periodic patterns in these images, particularly when the motion is large. With a larger motion the registration approach gets trapped in a local optima, leading to motion estimation errors. We introduce a novel "momenta, shooting, and correction" framework for Lagrangian motion estimation in the presence of repetitive patterns and large motion. This framework, grounded in Lie algebra and Lie group principles, accumulates momenta in the tangent vector space and employs exponential mapping in the diffeomorphic space for rapid approximation towards true optima, circumventing local optima. A subsequent correction step ensures convergence to true optima. The results on a 2D synthetic dataset and a real 3D tMRI dataset demonstrate our method's efficiency in estimating accurate, dense, and diffeomorphic 2D/3D motion fields amidst large motion and repetitive patterns.
Self-training is an important class of unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) approaches that are used to mitigate the problem of domain shift, when applying knowledge learned from a labeled source domain to unlabeled and heterogeneous target domains. While self-training-based UDA has shown considerable promise on discriminative tasks, including classification and segmentation, through reliable pseudo-label filtering based on the maximum softmax probability, there is a paucity of prior work on self-training-based UDA for generative tasks, including image modality translation. To fill this gap, in this work, we seek to develop a generative self-training (GST) framework for domain adaptive image translation with continuous value prediction and regression objectives. Specifically, we quantify both aleatoric and epistemic uncertainties within our GST using variational Bayes learning to measure the reliability of synthesized data. We also introduce a self-attention scheme that de-emphasizes the background region to prevent it from dominating the training process. The adaptation is then carried out by an alternating optimization scheme with target domain supervision that focuses attention on the regions with reliable pseudo-labels. We evaluated our framework on two cross-scanner/center, inter-subject translation tasks, including tagged-to-cine magnetic resonance (MR) image translation and T1-weighted MR-to-fractional anisotropy translation. Extensive validations with unpaired target domain data showed that our GST yielded superior synthesis performance in comparison to adversarial training UDA methods.
Data-driven thalamic nuclei parcellation depends on high-quality manual annotations. However, the small size and low contrast changes among thalamic nuclei, yield annotations that are often incomplete, noisy, or ambiguously labelled. To train a robust thalamic nuclei parcellation model with noisy annotations, we propose a label propagation algorithm based on random walker to refine the annotations before model training. A two-step model was trained to generate first the whole thalamus and then the nuclei masks. We conducted experiments on a mild traumatic brain injury~(mTBI) dataset with noisy thalamic nuclei annotations. Our model outperforms current state-of-the-art thalamic nuclei parcellations by a clear margin. We believe our method can also facilitate the training of other parcellation models with noisy labels.
Connectivity information derived from diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images~(DW-MRIs) plays an important role in studying human subcortical gray matter structures. However, due to the $O(N^2)$ complexity of computing the connectivity of each voxel to every other voxel (or multiple ROIs), the current practice of extracting connectivity information is highly inefficient. This makes the processing of high-resolution images and population-level analyses very computationally demanding. To address this issue, we propose a more efficient way to extract connectivity information; briefly, we consider two regions/voxels to be connected if a white matter fiber streamline passes through them -- no matter where the streamline originates. We consider the thalamus parcellation task for demonstration purposes; our experiments show that our approach brings a 30 to 120 times speedup over traditional approaches with comparable qualitative parcellation results. We also demonstrate high-resolution connectivity features can be super-resolved from low-resolution DW-MRI in our framework. Together, these two innovations enable higher resolution connectivity analysis from DW-MRI. Our source code is availible at jasonbian97.github.io/fastcod.
Accurate tongue motion estimation is essential for tongue function evaluation. The harmonic phase processing (HARP) method and the phase vector incompressible registration algorithm (PVIRA) based on HARP can generate motion estimates from tagged MRI images, but they suffer from tag jumping due to large motions. This paper proposes a new registration method by combining the stationary velocity fields produced by PVIRA between successive time frames as a new initialization of the final registration stage to avoid tag jumping. The experiment results demonstrate the proposed method can avoid tag jumping and outperform the existing methods on tongue motion estimates.
The thalamus is a subcortical gray matter structure that plays a key role in relaying sensory and motor signals within the brain. Its nuclei can atrophy or otherwise be affected by neurological disease and injuries including mild traumatic brain injury. Segmenting both the thalamus and its nuclei is challenging because of the relatively low contrast within and around the thalamus in conventional magnetic resonance (MR) images. This paper explores imaging features to determine key tissue signatures that naturally cluster, from which we can parcellate thalamic nuclei. Tissue contrasts include T1-weighted and T2-weighted images, MR diffusion measurements including FA, mean diffusivity, Knutsson coefficients that represent fiber orientation, and synthetic multi-TI images derived from FGATIR and T1-weighted images. After registration of these contrasts and isolation of the thalamus, we use the uniform manifold approximation and projection (UMAP) method for dimensionality reduction to produce a low-dimensional representation of the data within the thalamus. Manual labeling of the thalamus provides labels for our UMAP embedding from which k nearest neighbors can be used to label new unseen voxels in that same UMAP embedding. N -fold cross-validation of the method reveals comparable performance to state-of-the-art methods for thalamic parcellation.
Understanding the underlying relationship between tongue and oropharyngeal muscle deformation seen in tagged-MRI and intelligible speech plays an important role in advancing speech motor control theories and treatment of speech related-disorders. Because of their heterogeneous representations, however, direct mapping between the two modalities -- i.e., two-dimensional (mid-sagittal slice) plus time tagged-MRI sequence and its corresponding one-dimensional waveform -- is not straightforward. Instead, we resort to two-dimensional spectrograms as an intermediate representation, which contains both pitch and resonance, from which to develop an end-to-end deep learning framework to translate from a sequence of tagged-MRI to its corresponding audio waveform with limited dataset size.~Our framework is based on a novel fully convolutional asymmetry translator with guidance of a self residual attention strategy to specifically exploit the moving muscular structures during speech.~In addition, we leverage a pairwise correlation of the samples with the same utterances with a latent space representation disentanglement strategy.~Furthermore, we incorporate an adversarial training approach with generative adversarial networks to offer improved realism on our generated spectrograms.~Our experimental results, carried out with a total of 63 tagged-MRI sequences alongside speech acoustics, showed that our framework enabled the generation of clear audio waveforms from a sequence of tagged-MRI, surpassing competing methods. Thus, our framework provides the great potential to help better understand the relationship between the two modalities.
Self-training based unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) has shown great potential to address the problem of domain shift, when applying a trained deep learning model in a source domain to unlabeled target domains. However, while the self-training UDA has demonstrated its effectiveness on discriminative tasks, such as classification and segmentation, via the reliable pseudo-label selection based on the softmax discrete histogram, the self-training UDA for generative tasks, such as image synthesis, is not fully investigated. In this work, we propose a novel generative self-training (GST) UDA framework with continuous value prediction and regression objective for cross-domain image synthesis. Specifically, we propose to filter the pseudo-label with an uncertainty mask, and quantify the predictive confidence of generated images with practical variational Bayes learning. The fast test-time adaptation is achieved by a round-based alternative optimization scheme. We validated our framework on the tagged-to-cine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) synthesis problem, where datasets in the source and target domains were acquired from different scanners or centers. Extensive validations were carried out to verify our framework against popular adversarial training UDA methods. Results show that our GST, with tagged MRI of test subjects in new target domains, improved the synthesis quality by a large margin, compared with the adversarial training UDA methods.
Data from diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) can be used to reconstruct fiber tracts, for example, in muscle and white matter. Estimation of fiber orientations (FOs) is a crucial step in the reconstruction process and these estimates can be corrupted by noise. In this paper, a new method called Fiber Orientation Reconstruction using Neighborhood Information (FORNI) is described and shown to reduce the effects of noise and improve FO estimation performance by incorporating spatial consistency. FORNI uses a fixed tensor basis to model the diffusion weighted signals, which has the advantage of providing an explicit relationship between the basis vectors and the FOs. FO spatial coherence is encouraged using weighted l1-norm regularization terms, which contain the interaction of directional information between neighbor voxels. Data fidelity is encouraged using a squared error between the observed and reconstructed diffusion weighted signals. After appropriate weighting of these competing objectives, the resulting objective function is minimized using a block coordinate descent algorithm, and a straightforward parallelization strategy is used to speed up processing. Experiments were performed on a digital crossing phantom, ex vivo tongue dMRI data, and in vivo brain dMRI data for both qualitative and quantitative evaluation. The results demonstrate that FORNI improves the quality of FO estimation over other state of the art algorithms.