A Visual Environment for Hypothesis Formation and Reasoning in Studies with fMRI and Multivariate Clinical Data

Daniel Jönsson, Albin Bergström, Camilla Forsell, Rozalyn Simon, Maria Engström, Anders Ynnerman, Ingrid Hotz
Eurographics Workshop on Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine - 2019
Download the publication : A_Visual_Environment_for_Hypothesis_Formation_and_Reasoning_in_Studies_with_fMRI_and_Multivariate_Clinical_Data.pdf [12.9Mo]  

We present an interactive visual environment for linked analysis of brain imaging and clinical measurements. The environment is developed in an iterative participatory design process involving neuroscientists investigating the causes of brain-related complex diseases. The hypotheses formation process about correlations between active brain regions and physiological or psychological factors in studies with hundreds of subjects is a central part of the investigation. Observing the reasoning patterns during hypotheses formation, we concluded that while existing tools provide powerful analysis options, they lack effective interactive exploration, thus limiting the scientific scope and preventing extraction of knowledge from available data. Based on these observations, we designed methods that support neuroscientists by integrating their existing statistical analysis of multivariate subject data with interactive visual exploration to enable them to better understand differences between patient groups and the complex bidirectional interplay between clinical measurement and the brain. These exploration concepts enable neuroscientists, for the first time during their investigations, to interactively move between and reason about questions such as ‘which clinical measurements are correlated with a specific brain region?’ or ‘are there differences in brain activity between depressed young and old subjects?’. The environment uses parallel coordinates for effective overview and selection of subject groups, Welch's t-test to filter out brain regions with statistically significant differences, and multiple visualizations of Pearson correlations between brain regions and clinical parameters to facilitate correlation analysis. A qualitative user study was performed with three neuroscientists from different domains. The study shows that the developed environment supports simultaneous analysis of more parameters, provides rapid pathways to insights, and is an effective support tool for hypothesis formation.

This work received an honorable mention award for best paper at Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine (VCBM) 2019.

DOI: 10.2312/vcbm.20191232

Images and movies


BibTex references

  author       = {J{\"o}nsson, Daniel and Bergstr{\"o}m, Albin and Forsell, Camilla and Simon, Rozalyn and Engstr{\"o}m, Maria and Ynnerman, Anders and Hotz, Ingrid},
  title        = {{A Visual Environment for Hypothesis Formation and Reasoning in Studies with fMRI and Multivariate Clinical Data}},
  booktitle    = {Eurographics Workshop on Visual Computing for Biology and Medicine},
  year         = {2019},
  publisher    = {The Eurographics Association},
  key          = {scivis, inviwo}

Author publication list