Department of Radiology and BRIC, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA; Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University, Seoul, 02841, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: [Email]
The highly convoluted cortical folding of the human brain is intriguingly complex and variable across individuals. Exploring the underlying representative patterns of cortical folding is of great importance for many neuroimaging studies. At term birth, all major cortical folds are established and are minimally affected by the complicated postnatal environments; hence, neonates are the ideal candidates for exploring early postnatal cortical folding patterns, which yet remain largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose a novel method for exploring the representative regional folding patterns of infant brains. Specifically, first, multi-view curvature features are constructed to comprehensively characterize the complex characteristics of cortical folding. Second, for each view of curvature features, a similarity matrix is computed to measure the similarity of cortical folding in a specific region between any pair of subjects. Next, a similarity network fusion method is adopted to nonlinearly and adaptively fuse all the similarity matrices into a single one for retaining both shared and complementary similarity information of the multiple characteristics of cortical folding. Finally, based on the fused similarity matrix and a hierarchical affinity propagation clustering approach, all subjects are automatically grouped into several clusters to obtain the representative folding patterns. To show the applications, we have applied the proposed method to a large-scale dataset with 595 normal neonates and discovered representative folding patterns in several cortical regions, i.e., the superior temporal gyrus (STG), inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), precuneus, and cingulate cortex. Meanwhile, we have revealed sex difference in STG, IFG, and cingulate cortex, as well as hemispheric asymmetries in STG and cingulate cortex in terms of cortical folding patterns. Moreover, we have also validated the proposed method on a public adult dataset, i.e., the Human Connectome Project (HCP), and revealed that certain major cortical folding patterns of adults are largely established at term birth.