Comparing variational Bayes with Markov chain Monte Carlo for Bayesian computation in neuroimaging.


In this article, we consider methods for Bayesian computation within the context of brain imaging studies. In such studies, the complexity of the resulting data often necessitates the use of sophisticated statistical models; however, the large size of these data can pose significant challenges for model fitting. We focus specifically on the neuroelectromagnetic inverse problem in electroencephalography, which involves estimating the neural activity within the brain from electrode-level data measured across the scalp. The relationship between the observed scalp-level data and the unobserved neural activity can be represented through an underdetermined dynamic linear model, and we discuss Bayesian computation for such models, where parameters represent the unknown neural sources of interest. We review the inverse problem and discuss variational approximations for fitting hierarchical models in this context. While variational methods have been widely adopted for model fitting in neuroimaging, they have received very little attention in the statistical literature, where Markov chain Monte Carlo is often used. We derive variational approximations for fitting two models: a simple distributed source model and a more complex spatiotemporal mixture model. We compare the approximations to Markov chain Monte Carlo using both synthetic data as well as through the analysis of a real electroencephalography dataset examining the evoked response related to face perception. The computational advantages of the variational method are demonstrated and the accuracy associated with the resulting approximations are clarified.

DOI: 10.1177/0962280212448973

Cite this paper

@article{Nathoo2013ComparingVB, title={Comparing variational Bayes with Markov chain Monte Carlo for Bayesian computation in neuroimaging.}, author={Farouk S. Nathoo and Mary Lesperance and Andrew B. Lawson and C. B. Dean}, journal={Statistical methods in medical research}, year={2013}, volume={22 4}, pages={398-423} }