Data-driven approaches for identifying links between brain structure and function in health and disease

Vincent Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Brain imaging technology provides a powerful tool to visualize the living human brain, provide insights into disease mechanisms, and potentially provide a tool to assist clinical decision-making. The brain has a very specific structural substrate providing a foundation for functional information; however, most studies ignore the very interesting and complex relationships between brain structure and brain function. While a variety of approaches have been used to study how brain structure informs function, the study of such relationships in living humans in most cases is limited to noninvasive approaches at the macroscopic scale. The use of data-driven approaches to link structure and function provides a tool which is especially important at the macroscopic scale at which we can study the human brain. This paper reviews data-driven approaches, with a focus on independent component analysis approaches, which leverage higher order statistics to link together macroscopic structural and functional MRI data. Such approaches provide the benefit of allowing us to identify links which do not necessarily correspond spatially (eg, structural changes in one region related to functional changes in other regions). They also provide a "network level" perspective on the data, by enabling us to identify sets of brain regions that covary together. This also opens up the ability to evaluate both within and between network relationships. A variety of examples are presented, including several showing the potential of such approaches to inform us about mental illness, particularly about schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
JournalDialogues in Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Brain structure
  • Data driven
  • Mental illness
  • brain function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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