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Bayesian analysis of neuroimaging data in FSL.

Typically in neuroimaging we are looking to extract some pertinent information from imperfect, noisy images of the brain. This might be the inference of percent changes in blood flow in perfusion FMRI data, segmentation of subcortical structures from structural MRI, or inference of the probability of an anatomical connection between an area of cortex and a subthalamic nucleus using diffusion MRI. In this article we will describe how Bayesian techniques have made a significant impact in tackling problems such as these, particularly in regards to the analysis tools in the FMRIB Software Library (FSL). We shall see how Bayes provides a framework within which we can attempt to infer on models of neuroimaging data, while allowing us to incorporate our prior belief about the brain and the neuroimaging equipment in the form of biophysically informed or regularising priors. It allows us to extract probabilistic information from the data, and to probabilistically combine information from multiple modalities. Bayes can also be used to not only compare and select between models of different complexity, but also to infer on data using committees of models. Finally, we mention some analysis scenarios where Bayesian methods are impractical, and briefly discuss some practical approaches that we have taken in these cases.

Pubmed ID: 19059349


  • Woolrich MW
  • Jbabdi S
  • Patenaude B
  • Chappell M
  • Makni S
  • Behrens T
  • Beckmann C
  • Jenkinson M
  • Smith SM



Publication Data

March 23, 2009

Associated Grants

  • Agency: Medical Research Council, Id: G0800578
  • Agency: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Id:
  • Agency: Medical Research Council, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Bayes Theorem
  • Brain
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Software