A new Graph Gaussian embedding method for analyzing the effects of cognitive training

Mengjia Xu, Zhijiang Wang, Haifeng Zhang, Dimitrios Pantazis, Huali Wang, Quanzheng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Identifying heterogeneous cognitive impairment markers at an early stage is vital for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. However, due to complex and uncertain brain connectivity features in the cognitive domains, it remains challenging to quantify functional brain connectomic changes during non-pharmacological interventions for amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) patients. We present a quantitative method for functional brain network analysis of fMRI data based on the multi-graph unsupervised Gaussian embedding method (MG2G). This neural network-based model can effectively learn low-dimensional Gaussian distributions from the original high-dimensional sparse functional brain networks, quantify uncertainties in link prediction, and discover the intrinsic dimensionality of brain networks. Using the Wasserstein distance to measure probabilistic changes, we discovered that brain regions in the default mode network and somatosensory/somatomotor hand, fronto-parietal task control, memory retrieval, and visual and dorsal attention systems had relatively large variations during non-pharmacological training, which might provide distinct biomarkers for fine-grained monitoring of aMCI cognitive alteration. An important finding of our study is the ability of the new method to capture subtle changes for individual patients before and after short-term intervention. More broadly, the MG2G method can be used in studying multiple brain disorders and injuries, e.g., in Parkinson's disease or traumatic brain injury (TBI), and hence it will be useful to the wider neuroscience community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1008186
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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