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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2021

Numerical uncertainty in analytical pipelines lead to impactful variability in brain networks

Abstract

The analysis of brain-imaging data requires complex processing pipelines to support findings on brain function or pathologies. Recent work has shown that variability in analytical decisions, small amounts of noise, or computational environments can lead to substantial differences in the results, endangering the trust in conclusions. We explored the instability of results by instrumenting a structural connectome estimation pipeline with Monte Carlo Arithmetic to introduce random noise throughout. We evaluated the reliability of the connectomes, the robustness of their features, and the eventual impact on analysis. The stability of results was found to range from perfectly stable (i.e. all digits of data significant) to highly unstable (i.e. 0 − 1 significant digits). This paper highlights the potential of leveraging induced variance in estimates of brain connectivity to reduce the bias in networks without compromising reliability, alongside increasing the robustness and potential upper-bound of their applications in the classification of individual differences. We demonstrate that stability evaluations are necessary for understanding error inherent to brain imaging experiments, and how numerical analysis can be applied to typical analytical workflows both in brain imaging and other domains of computational sciences, as the techniques used were data and context agnostic and globally relevant. Overall, while the extreme variability in results due to analytical instabilities could severely hamper our understanding of brain organization, it also affords us the opportunity to increase the robustness of findings.

Domains

Medical Imaging
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Dates and versions

hal-03651395 , version 1 (30-05-2022)

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Gregory Kiar, Yohan Chatelain, Pablo de Oliveira Castro, Eric Petit, Ariel Rokem, et al.. Numerical uncertainty in analytical pipelines lead to impactful variability in brain networks. PLoS ONE, 2021, 16 (11), pp.e0250755. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0250755⟩. ⟨hal-03651395⟩
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