In this paper, we introduce a novel methodology for the analysis of task-related fMRI data. In particular, we propose an alternative way for constructing the design matrix, based on the newly suggested Information-Assisted Dictionary Learning (IADL) method. This technique offers an enhanced potential, within the conventional GLM framework, (a) to efficiently cope with uncertainties in the modeling of the hemodynamic response function, (b) to accommodate unmodeled brain-induced sources, beyond the task-related ones, as well as potential interfering scanner-induced artifacts, uncorrected head-motion residuals and other unmodeled physiological signals, and (c) to integrate external knowledge regarding the natural sparsity of the brain activity that is associated with both the experimental design and brain atlases. The capabilities of the proposed methodology are evaluated via a realistic synthetic fMRI-like dataset, and demonstrated using a test case of a challenging fMRI study, which verifies that the proposed approach produces substantially more consistent results compared to the standard design matrix method. A toolbox extension for SPM is also provided, to facilitate the use and reproducibility of the proposed methodology.
Keywords: Dictionary learning; General linear model (GLM); Semi-blind; Subject variability; fMRI.
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