Investigating molecular transport in the human brain from MRI with physics-informed neural networks

Sci Rep. 2022 Sep 14;12(1):15475. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-19157-w.


In recent years, a plethora of methods combining neural networks and partial differential equations have been developed. A widely known example are physics-informed neural networks, which solve problems involving partial differential equations by training a neural network. We apply physics-informed neural networks and the finite element method to estimate the diffusion coefficient governing the long term spread of molecules in the human brain from magnetic resonance images. Synthetic testcases are created to demonstrate that the standard formulation of the physics-informed neural network faces challenges with noisy measurements in our application. Our numerical results demonstrate that the residual of the partial differential equation after training needs to be small for accurate parameter recovery. To achieve this, we tune the weights and the norms used in the loss function and use residual based adaptive refinement of training points. We find that the diffusion coefficient estimated from magnetic resonance images with physics-informed neural networks becomes consistent with results from a finite element based approach when the residuum after training becomes small. The observations presented here are an important first step towards solving inverse problems on cohorts of patients in a semi-automated fashion with physics-informed neural networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Physics
  • Records