Section: Partnerships and Cooperations

National Initiatives


MultiFracs project

Participants : Philippe Ciuciu [Correspondant] , Daria La Rocca.

The scale-free concept formalizes the intuition that, in many systems, the analysis of temporal dynamics cannot be grounded on specific and characteristic time scales. The scale-free paradigm has permitted the relevant analysis of numerous applications, very different in nature, ranging from natural phenomena (hydrodynamic turbulence, geophysics, body rhythms, brain activity,...) to human activities (Internet traffic, population, finance, art,...).

Yet, most successes of scale-free analysis were obtained in contexts where data are univariate, homogeneous along time (a single stationary time series), and well-characterized by simple-shape local singularities. For such situations, scale-free dynamics translate into global or local power laws, which significantly eases practical analyses. Numerous recent real-world applications (macroscopic spontaneous brain dynamics, the central application in this project, being one paradigm example), however, naturally entail large multivariate data (many signals), whose properties vary along time (non-stationarity) and across components (non-homogeneity), with potentially complex temporal dynamics, thus intricate local singular behaviors.

These three issues call into question the intuitive and founding identification of scale-free to power laws, and thus make uneasy multivariate scale-free and multifractal analyses, precluding the use of univariate methodologies. This explains why the concept of scale-free dynamics is barely used and with limited successes in such settings and highlights the overriding need for a systematic methodological study of multivariate scale-free and multifractal dynamics. The Core Theme of MULTIFRACS consists in laying the theoretical foundations of a practical robust statistical signal processing framework for multivariate non homogeneous scale-free and multifractal analyses, suited to varied types of rich singularities, as well as in performing accurate analyses of scale-free dynamics in spontaneous and task-related macroscopic brain activity, to assess their natures, functional roles and relevance, and their relations to behavioral performance in a timing estimation task using multimodal functional imaging techniques.

This overarching objective is organized into 4 Challenges:

  1. Multivariate scale-free and multifractal analysis,

  2. Second generation of local singularity indices,

  3. Scale-free dynamics, non-stationarity and non-homogeneity,

  4. Multivariate scale-free temporal dynamics analysis in macroscopic brain activity.

BrainPedia project

Participants : Bertrand Thirion [Correspondant] , Gaël Varoquaux.

BrainPedia is an ANR JCJC (2011-2015) which addresses the following question: Neuroimaging produces huge amounts of complex data that are used to better understand the relations between brain structure and function. While the acquisition and analysis of this data is getting standardized in some aspects, the neuroimaging community is still largely missing appropriate tools to store and organize the knowledge related to the data. Taking advantage of common coordinate systems to represent the results of group studies, coordinate-based meta-analysis approaches associated with repositories of neuroimaging publications provide a crude solution to this problem, that does not yield reliable outputs and looses most of the data-related information. In this project, we propose to tackle the problem in a statistically rigorous framework, thus providing usable information to drive neuroscientific knowledge and questions.

Niconnect project

Participants : Bertrand Thirion, Gaël Varoquaux [Correspondant] , Alexandre Abraham, Kamalaker Reddy Dadi, Darya Chyzhyk, Mehdi Rahim.

  • Context: The NiConnect project (2012-2016) arises from an increasing need of medical imaging tools to diagnose efficiently brain pathologies, such as neuro-degenerative and psychiatric diseases or lesions related to stroke. Brain imaging provides a non-invasive and widespread probe of various features of brain organization, that are then used to make an accurate diagnosis, assess brain rehabilitation, or make a prognostic on the chance of recovery of a patient. Among different measures extracted from brain imaging, functional connectivity is particularly attractive, as it readily probes the integrity of brain networks, considered as providing the most complete view on brain functional organization.

  • Challenges: To turn methods research into popular tool widely usable by non specialists, the NiConnect project puts specific emphasis on producing high-quality open-source software. NiConnect addresses the many data analysis tasks that extract relevant information from resting-state fMRI datasets. Specifically, the scientific difficulties are i) conducting proper validation of the models and tools, and ii) providing statistically controlled information to neuroscientists or medical doctors. More importantly, these procedures should be robust enough to perform analysis on limited quality data, as acquiring data on diseased populations is challenging and artifacts can hardly be controlled in clinical settings.

  • Outcome of the project: In the scope of computer science and statistics, NiConnect pushes forward algorithms and statistical models for brain functional connectivity. In particular, we are investigating structured and multi-task graphical models to learn high-dimensional multi-subject brain connectivity models, as well as spatially-informed sparse decompositions for segmenting structures from brain imaging. With regards to neuroimaging methods development, NiConnect provides systematic comparisons and evaluations of connectivity biomarkers and a software library embedding best-performing state-of-the-art approaches. Finally, with regards to medical applications, the NiConnect project also plays a support role in on going medical studies and clinical trials on neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Consortium

    • Parietal Inria research team: applied mathematics and computer science to model the brain from MRI

    • LIF INSERM research team: medical image data analysis and modeling for clinical applications

    • CATI center: medical image processing center for large scale brain imaging studies

    • Henri-Mondor hospital neurosurgery and neuroradiology: clinical teams conducting research on treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Huntington and Parkinson diseases

    • Logilab: consulting in scientific computing