Estimating regional cerebral blood flow using resting-state functional MRI via machine learning

Ganesh B. Chand, Mohamad Habes, Sudipto Dolui, John A. Detre, David A. Wolk, Christos Davatzikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Perfusion MRI is an important modality in many brain imaging protocols, since it probes cerebrovascular changes in aging and many diseases; however, it may not be always available. New method: We introduce a new method that seeks to estimate regional perfusion properties using spectral information of resting-state functional MRI (rsfMRI) via machine learning. We used pairs of rsfMRI and arterial spin labeling (ASL) images from the same individuals with normal cognition and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and built support vector machine models aiming to estimate regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) from the rsfMRI signal alone. Results: This method demonstrated higher associations between the estimated CBF and actual CBF (ASL-CBF) at the total lobar gray matter (r = 0.40; FDR-p = 1.9e-03), parietal lobe (r = 0.46, FDR-p = 8e-04), and occipital lobe (r = 0.35; FDR-p = 0.01) using rsfMRI signals of frequencies [0.01-0.15] Hertz compared to frequencies [0.01-0.10] Hertz and [0.01-0.20] Hertz. We further observed significant associations between the estimated CBF and actual CBF in 24 regions of interest (p < 0.05), with the highest association observed in the superior parietal lobule (r = 0.50, FDR-p = 0.002). Moreover, the estimated CBF at superior parietal lobule showed significant correlation with the mini-mental state exam (MMSE) score (r = 0.27; FDR-p = 0.04) and decreased in MCI with lower MMSE score compared to NC group (FDR-p = 0.04). Comparison with existing methods: Consistent with previous findings, this new method also suggests that rsfMRI signals contain perfusion information. Conclusion: The proposed framework can obtain estimates of regional perfusion from rsfMRI, which can serve as surrogate perfusion measures in the absence of ASL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108528
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial spin labeling
  • Functional MRI
  • Machine learning
  • Neuroimaging
  • Support vector machines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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