Feature analysis of functional mri data for mapping epileptic networks
Burrell, Lauren S.
MetadataShow full item record
This research focused on the development of a methodology for analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected from patients with epilepsy in order to map epileptic networks. Epilepsy, a chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures, affects up to 1% of the world's population. Antiepileptic drug therapies either do not successfully control seizures or have unacceptable side effects in over 30% of patients. Approximately one-third of patients whose seizures cannot be controlled by medication are candidates for surgical removal of the affected area of the brain, potentially rendering them seizure free. Accurate localization of the epileptogenic focus, i.e., the area of seizure onset, is critical for the best surgical outcome. The main objective of the research was to develop a set of fMRI data features that could be used to distinguish between normal brain tissue and the epileptic focus. To determine the best combination of features from various domains for mapping the focus, genetic programming and several feature selection methods were employed. These composite features and feature sets were subsequently used to train a classifier capable of discriminating between the two classes of voxels. The classifier was then applied to a separate testing set in order to generate maps showing brain voxels labeled as either normal or epileptogenic based on the best feature or set of features. It should be noted that although this work focuses on the application of fMRI analysis to epilepsy data, similar techniques could be used when studying brain activations due to other sources. In addition to investigating in vivo data collected from temporal lobe epilepsy patients with uncertain epileptic foci, phantom (simulated) data were created and processed to provide quantitative measures of the efficacy of the techniques.