Bio

Bio


I am generally interested in using image analysis techniques to improve detection, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. My research interests particularly lie in the areas of non-linear statistics and machine learning applied to translational neuroscience.

Publications

All Publications


  • Accelerated aging and motor control deficits are related to regional deformation of central cerebellar white matter in alcohol use disorder ADDICTION BIOLOGY Zhao, Q., Pfefferbaum, A., Podhajsky, S., Pohl, K. M., Sullivan, E. V. 2020; 25 (3)

    View details for DOI 10.1111/adb.12746

    View details for Web of Science ID 000528674100024

  • Adolescent alcohol use disrupts functional neurodevelopment in sensation seeking girls. Addiction biology Zhao, Q., Sullivan, E. V., Műller-Oehring, E. M., Honnorat, N., Adeli, E., Podhajsky, S., Baker, F. C., Colrain, I. M., Prouty, D., Tapert, S. F., Brown, S. A., Meloy, M. J., Brumback, T., Nagel, B. J., Morales, A. M., Clark, D. B., Luna, B., De Bellis, M. D., Voyvodic, J. T., Nooner, K. B., Pfefferbaum, A., Pohl, K. M. 2020: e12914

    Abstract

    Exogenous causes, such as alcohol use, and endogenous factors, such as temperament and sex, can modulate developmental trajectories of adolescent neurofunctional maturation. We examined how these factors affect sexual dimorphism in brain functional networks in youth drinking below diagnostic threshold for alcohol use disorder (AUD). Based on the 3-year, annually acquired, longitudinal resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of 526 adolescents (12-21 years at baseline) from the National Consortium on Alcohol and Neurodevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) cohort, developmental trajectories of 23 intrinsic functional networks (IFNs) were analyzed for (1) sexual dimorphism in 259 participants who were no-to-low drinkers throughout this period; (2) sex-alcohol interactions in two age- and sex-matched NCANDA subgroups (N = 76 each), half no-to-low, and half moderate-to-heavy drinkers; and (3) moderating effects of gender-specific alcohol dose effects and a multifactorial impulsivity measure on IFN connectivity in all NCANDA participants. Results showed that sex differences in no-to-low drinkers diminished with age in the inferior-occipital network, yet girls had weaker within-network connectivity than boys in six other networks. Effects of adolescent alcohol use were more pronounced in girls than boys in three IFNs. In particular, girls showed greater within-network connectivity in two motor networks with more alcohol consumption, and these effects were mediated by sensation-seeking only in girls. Our results implied that drinking might attenuate the naturally diminishing sexual differences by disrupting the maturation of network efficiency more severely in girls. The sex-alcohol-dose effect might explain why women are at higher risk of alcohol-related health and psychosocial consequences than men.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/adb.12914

    View details for PubMedID 32428984

  • Confounder-Aware Visualization of ConvNets. Machine learning in medical imaging. MLMI (Workshop) Zhao, Q., Adeli, E., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2019; 11861: 328–36

    Abstract

    With recent advances in deep learning, neuroimaging studies increasingly rely on convolutional networks (ConvNets) to predict diagnosis based on MR images. To gain a better understanding of how a disease impacts the brain, the studies visualize the salience maps of the ConvNet highlighting voxels within the brain majorly contributing to the prediction. However, these salience maps are generally confounded, i.e., some salient regions are more predictive of confounding variables (such as age) than the diagnosis. To avoid such misinterpretation, we propose in this paper an approach that aims to visualize confounder-free saliency maps that only highlight voxels predictive of the diagnosis. The approach incorporates univariate statistical tests to identify confounding effects within the intermediate features learned by ConvNet. The influence from the subset of confounded features is then removed by a novel partial back-propagation procedure. We use this two-step approach to visualize confounder-free saliency maps extracted from synthetic and two real datasets. These experiments reveal the potential of our visualization in producing unbiased model-interpretation.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-32692-0_38

    View details for PubMedID 32549051

  • On discrete Wirtinger-Northcott problems LINEAR ALGEBRA AND ITS APPLICATIONS Leng, T., Zhao, Q., Qin, X. 2019; 575: 141–58
  • Accelerated aging and motor control deficits are related to regional deformation of central cerebellar white matter in alcohol use disorder. Addiction biology Zhao, Q., Pfefferbaum, A., Podhajsky, S., Pohl, K. M., Sullivan, E. V. 2019

    Abstract

    The World Health Organization estimates a 12-month prevalence rate of 8+% for an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis in people age 15years and older in the United States and Europe, presenting significant health risks that have the potential of accelerating age-related functional decline. According to neuropathological studies, white matter systems of the cerebellum are vulnerable to chronic alcohol dependence. To pursue the effect of AUD on white matter structure and functions in vivo, this study used T1-weighted, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify the total corpus medullare of the cerebellum and a finely grained analysis of its surface in 135 men and women with AUD (mean duration of abstinence, 248d) and 128 age- and sex-matched control participants; subsets of these participants completed motor testing. We identified an AUD-related volume deficit and accelerated aging in the total corpus medullare. Novel deformation-based surface morphometry revealed regional shrinkage of surfaces adjacent to lobules I-V, lobule IX, and vermian lobule X. In addition, accelerated aging was detected in the regional surface areas adjacent to lobules I-V, lobule VI, lobule VIIB, and lobules VIII, IX, and X. Sex differences were not identified for any measure. For both volume-based and surface-based analyses, poorer performance in gait and balance, manual dexterity, and grip strength were linked to greater regional white matter structural deficits. Our results suggest that local deformation of the corpus medullare has the potential of identifying structurally and functionally segregated networks affected in AUD.

    View details for PubMedID 30932270

  • PREDICTION OF TREATMENT OUTCOME FOR AUTISM FROM STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN BASED ON SURE INDEPENDENCE SCREENING. Proceedings. IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging Zhuang, J., Dvornek, N. C., Zhao, Q., Li, X., Ventola, P., Duncan, J. S. 2019; 2019: 404–8

    Abstract

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder, and behavioral treatment interventions have shown promise for young children with ASD. However, there is limited progress in understanding the effect of each type of treatment. In this project, we aim to detect structural changes in the brain after treatment and select structural features associated with treatment outcomes. The difficulty in building large databases of patients who have received specific treatments and the high dimensionality of medical image analysis problems are the challenges in this work. To select predictive features and build accurate models, we use the sure independence screening (SIS) method. SIS is a theoretically and empirically validated method for ultra-high dimensional general linear models, and it achieves both predictive accuracy and correct feature selection by iterative feature selection. Compared with step-wise feature selection methods, SIS removes multiple features in each iteration and is computationally efficient. Compared with other linear models such as elastic-net regression, support vector regression (SVR) and partial least squares regression (PSLR), SIS achieves higher accuracy. We validated the superior performance of SIS in various experiments: First, we extract brain structural features from FreeSurfer, including cortical thickness, surface area, mean curvature and cortical volume. Next, we predict different measures of treatment outcomes based on structural features. We show that SIS achieves the highest correlation between prediction and measurements in all tasks. Furthermore, we report regions selected by SIS as biomarkers for ASD.

    View details for DOI 10.1109/ISBI.2019.8759156

    View details for PubMedID 32256966

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7119202

  • PREDICTION OF TREATMENT OUTCOME FOR AUTISM FROM STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN BASED ON SURE INDEPENDENCE SCREENING Zhuang, J., Dvornek, N. C., Zhao, Q., Li, X., Ventola, P., Duncan, J. S., IEEE IEEE. 2019: 404–8
  • Variational Autoencoder with Truncated Mixture of Gaussians for Functional Connectivity Analysis Zhao, Q., Honnorat, N., Adeli, E., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M., Chung, A. C., Gee, J. C., Yushkevich, P. A., Bao, S. SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG. 2019: 867–79
  • Longitudinally consistent estimates of intrinsic functional networks. Human brain mapping Zhao, Q., Kwon, D., Müller-Oehring, E. M., Le Berre, A. P., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2019

    Abstract

    Increasing numbers of neuroimaging studies are acquiring data to examine changes in brain architecture by investigating intrinsic functional networks (IFN) from longitudinal resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI). At the subject level, these IFNs are determined by cross-sectional procedures, which neglect intra-subject dependencies and result in suboptimal estimates of the networks. Here, a novel longitudinal approach simultaneously extracts subject-specific IFNs across multiple visits by explicitly modeling functional brain development as an essential context for seeking change. On data generated by an innovative simulation based on real rs-fMRI, the method was more accurate in estimating subject-specific IFNs than cross-sectional approaches. Furthermore, only group-analysis based on longitudinally consistent estimates identified significant developmental effects within IFNs of 246 adolescents from the National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) study. The findings were confirmed by the cross-sectional estimates when the corresponding group analysis was confined to the developmental effects. Those effects also converged with current concepts of neurodevelopment.

    View details for PubMedID 30806009

  • Longitudinally consistent estimates of intrinsic functional networks Human Brain Mapping Zhao, Q., Kwon, D., Müller-Oehring, E. M., Le Berre, A., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2019

    View details for DOI 10.1002/hbm.24541

  • Jacobian Maps Reveal Under-reported Brain Regions Sensitive to Extreme Binge Ethanol Intoxication in the Rat FRONTIERS IN NEUROANATOMY Zhao, Q., Fritz, M., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M., Zahr, N. M. 2018; 12
  • Chained regularization for identifying brain patterns specific to HIV infection NEUROIMAGE Adeli, E., Kwon, D., Zhao, Q., Pfefferbaum, A., Zahr, N. M., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2018; 183: 425–37
  • Chained regularization for identifying brain patterns specific to HIV infection. NeuroImage Adeli, E., Kwon, D., Zhao, Q., Pfefferbaum, A., Zahr, N. M., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2018

    Abstract

    Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection continues to have major adverse public health and clinical consequences despite the effectiveness of combination Antiretroviral Therapy (cART) in reducing HIV viral load and improving immune function. As successfully treated individuals with HIV infection age, their cognition declines faster than reported for normal aging. This phenomenon underlines the importance of improving long-term care, which requires better understanding of the impact of HIV on the brain. In this paper, automated identification of patients and brain regions affected by HIV infection are modeled as a classification problem, whose solution is determined in two steps within our proposed Chained-Regularization framework. The first step focuses on selecting the HIV pattern (i.e., the most informative constellation of brain region measurements for distinguishing HIV infected subjects from healthy controls) by constraining the search for the optimal parameter setting of the classifier via group sparsity (ℓ2,1-norm). The second step improves classification accuracy by constraining the parameterization with respect to the selected measurements and the Euclidean regularization (ℓ2-norm). When applied to the cortical and subcortical structural Magnetic Resonance Images (MRI) measurements of 65 controls and 65 HIV infected individuals, this approach is more accurate in distinguishing the two cohorts than more common models. Finally, the brain regions of the identified HIV pattern concur with the HIV literature that uses traditional group analysis models.

    View details for PubMedID 30138676

  • Alcohol use effects on adolescent brain development revealed by simultaneously removing confounding factors, identifying morphometric patterns, and classifying individuals SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Park, S., Zhang, Y., Kwon, D., Zhao, Q., Zahr, N. M., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M. 2018; 8: 8297

    Abstract

    Group analysis of brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) metrics frequently employs generalized additive models (GAM) to remove contributions of confounding factors before identifying cohort specific characteristics. For example, the National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) used such an approach to identify effects of alcohol misuse on the developing brain. Here, we hypothesized that considering confounding factors before group analysis removes information relevant for distinguishing adolescents with drinking history from those without. To test this hypothesis, we introduce a machine-learning model that identifies cohort-specific, neuromorphometric patterns by simultaneously training a GAM and generic classifier on macrostructural MRI and microstructural diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics and compare it to more traditional group analysis and machine-learning approaches. Using a baseline NCANDA MR dataset (N = 705), the proposed machine learning approach identified a pattern of eight brain regions unique to adolescents who misuse alcohol. Classifying high-drinking adolescents was more accurate with that pattern than using regions identified with alternative approaches. The findings of the joint model approach thus were (1) impartial to confounding factors; (2) relevant to drinking behaviors; and (3) in concurrence with the alcohol literature.

    View details for PubMedID 29844507

  • Jacobian Maps Reveal Under-reported Brain Regions Sensitive to Extreme Binge Ethanol Intoxication in the Rat. Frontiers in neuroanatomy Zhao, Q., Fritz, M., Pfefferbaum, A., Sullivan, E. V., Pohl, K. M., Zahr, N. M. 2018; 12: 108

    Abstract

    Individuals aged 12-20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States with more than 90% consumed in the form of binge drinking. Early onset alcohol use is a strong predictor of future alcohol dependence. The study of the effects of excessive alcohol use on the human brain is hampered by limited information regarding the quantity and frequency of exposure to alcohol. Animal models can control for age at alcohol exposure onset and enable isolation of neural substrates of exposure to different patterns and quantities of ethanol (EtOH). As with humans, a frequently used binge exposure model is thought to produce dependence and affect predominantly corticolimbic brain regions. in vivo neuroimaging enables animals models to be examined longitudinally, allowing for each animal to serve as its own control. Accordingly, we conducted 3 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sessions (baseline, binge, recovery) to track structure throughout the brains of wild type Wistar rats to test the hypothesis that binge EtOH exposure affects specific brain regions in addition to corticolimbic circuitry. Voxel-based comparisons of 13 EtOH- vs. 12 water- exposed animals identified significant thalamic shrinkage and lateral ventricular enlargement as occurring with EtOH exposure, but recovering with a week of abstinence. By contrast, pretectal nuclei and superior and inferior colliculi shrank in response to binge EtOH treatment but did not recover with abstinence. These results identify brainstem structures that have been relatively underreported but are relevant for localizing neurocircuitry relevant to the dynamic course of alcoholism.

    View details for PubMedID 30618652

  • A Riemannian Framework for Longitudinal Analysis of Resting-State Functional Connectivity Zhao, Q., Kwon, D., Pohl, K. M., Frangi, A. F., Schnabel, J. A., Davatzikos, C., AlberolaLopez, C., Fichtinger, G. SPRINGER INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING AG. 2018: 145–53

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