Dynamic organization of human brain function and its relevance for psychosis vulnerability

The brain is the substrate of a complex dynamic system providing a remarkably varied range of functionalities, going from simple perception to higher-level cognition. Disturbances in its complex dynamics can cause an equally vast variety of mental disorders. One such brain disorder is schizophrenia, a neurodevelopmental disease characterized by abnormal perception of reality that manifests in symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Even though the brain is known to be affected in schizophrenia, the exact pathophysiology underlying its developmental course is still mostly unknown. In this thesis, we develop and apply methods to look into ongoing brain function measured through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and evaluate the potential of these approaches for improving our understanding of psychosis vulnerability and schizophrenia. We focus on patients with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS), a genetic disorder that comes with a 30fold increased risk for ...

Zöller, Daniela — EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)


Automated quantification of preterm brain maturation using electroencephalography

Around 10 percent of all human births is premature, which means that annually about 15 million babies are born before 37 completed weeks of gestation. About one third of the admissions to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) consists of this patient group. Due to complications, 1 million babies die from premature delivery, and it is therefore the most important cause of neonatal death. In general, premature and immature babies have a high risk for neurological abnormalities by maturation in extra-uterine life. Even though improved health care has increased the survival changes of these neonates, they are sensitive to brain damage and consequently, neurocognitive disabilities. Nowadays, critical information about the brain development can be extracted from the electroencephalography (EEG). Clinical experts visually assess evolving EEG characteristics over both short and long periods to evaluate maturation of patients at risk and, ...

Koolen, Ninah — KU Leuven


Heart rate variability : linear and nonlinear analysis with applications in human physiology

Cardiovascular diseases are a growing problem in today’s society. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that these diseases make up about 30% of total global deaths and that heart diseases have no geographic, gender or socioeconomic boundaries. Therefore, detecting cardiac irregularities early-stage and a correct treatment are very important. However, this requires a good physiological understanding of the cardiovascular system. The heart is stimulated electrically by the brain via the autonomic nervous system, where sympathetic and vagal pathways are always interacting and modulating heart rate. Continuous monitoring of the heart activity is obtained by means of an ElectroCardioGram (ECG). Studying the fluctuations of heart beat intervals over time reveals a lot of information and is called heart rate variability (HRV) analysis. A reduction of HRV has been reported in several cardiological and noncardiological diseases. Moreover, HRV also has a prognostic ...

Vandeput, Steven — KU Leuven


Central and peripheral mechanisms: a multimodal approach to understanding and restoring human motor control

All human actions involve motor control. Even the simplest movement requires the coordinated recruitment of many muscles, orchestrated by neuronal circuits in the brain and the spinal cord. As a consequence, lesions affecting the central nervous system, such as stroke, can lead to a wide range of motor impairments. While a certain degree of recovery can often be achieved by harnessing the plasticity of the motor hierarchy, patients typically struggle to regain full motor control. In this context, technology-assisted interventions offer the prospect of intense, controllable and quantifiable motor training. Yet, clinical outcomes remain comparable to conventional approaches, suggesting the need for a paradigm shift towards customized knowledge-driven treatments to fully exploit their potential. In this thesis, we argue that a detailed understanding of healthy and impaired motor pathways can foster the development of therapies optimally engaging plasticity. To this ...

Kinany, Nawal — Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)


Analysis of electrophysiological measurements during stress monitoring

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are a growing problem in todays society. These musculoskeletal disorders are caused by, amongst others, repetitive movements and mental stress. Stress is defined as the mismatch between a perceived demand and the perceived capacities to meet this demand. Although stress has a subjective origin, several physiological manifestations (e.g. cardiovascular and muscular) occur during periods of perceived stress. New insight and algorithms to extract information, related to stress are beneficial. Therefore, two series of stress experiments are executed in a laboratory environment, where subjects underwent different tasks inducing physical strain, mental stress and a combination of both. In this manuscript, new and modified algorithms for electromyography signals are presented that improve the individual analysis of electromyography signals. A first algorithm removes the interference of the electrical activity of the heart on singlechannel electromyography measurements. This interference signal is ...

Taelman, Joachim — KU Leuven


New approaches for EEG signal processing: Artifact EOG removal by ICA-RLS scheme and Tracks extraction method

Localizing the bioelectric phenomena originating from the cerebral cortex and evoked by auditory and somatosensory stimuli are clear objectives to both understand how the brain works and to recognize different pathologies. Diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and epilepsy are intensively studied to find a cure or accurate diagnosis. Epilepsy is considered the disease with major prevalence within disorders with neurological origin. The recurrent and sudden incidence of seizures can lead to dangerous and possibly life-threatening situations. Since disturbance of consciousness and sudden loss of motor control often occur without any warning, the ability to predict epileptic seizures would reduce patients' anxiety, thus considerably improving quality of life and safety. The common procedure for epilepsy seizure detection is based on brain activity monitorization via electroencephalogram (EEG) data. This process consumes a lot of time, especially in the case of long ...

Carlos Guerrero-Mosquera — University Carlos III of Madrid


Data-Driven Multimodal Signal Processing With Applications To EEG-fMRI Fusion

Most cognitive processes in the brain are reflected through several aspects simultaneously, allowing us to observe the same process from different biological phenomena. The diverse nature of these biological processes suggests that a better understanding of cerebral activity may be achieved through multimodal measurements. One of the possible multimodal brain recording settings is the combination of electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is one of the main topics of this thesis. Two groups of EEG-fMRI integration approaches are possible. The first group, commonly called model-based techniques, are very popular due to the fact that the results from such analyses confirm or disprove a specific hypothesis. However, such hypotheses are not always available, requiring a more explorative approach to analyze the data. This exploration is possible with the second group of approaches, the so-called data-driven methods. The data-driven ...

Mijović, Bogdan — KU Leuven


Functional Neuroimaging Data Characterisation Via Tensor Representations

The growing interest in neuroimaging technologies generates a massive amount of biomedical data that exhibit high dimensionality. Tensor-based analysis of brain imaging data has by now been recognized as an effective approach exploiting its inherent multi-way nature. In particular, the advantages of tensorial over matrix-based methods have previously been demonstrated in the context of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) source localization; the identification of the regions of the brain which are activated at specific time instances. However, such methods can also become ineffective in realistic challenging scenarios, involving, e.g., strong noise and/or significant overlap among the activated regions. Moreover, they commonly rely on the assumption of an underlying multilinear model generating the data. In the first part of this thesis, we aimed at investigating the possible gains from exploiting the 3-dimensional nature of the brain images, through a higher-order tensorization ...

Christos Chatzichristos — National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


Resource Management in Multicarrier Based Cognitive Radio Systems

The ever-increasing growth of the wireless application and services affirms the importance of the effective usage of the limited radio spectrum. Existing spectrum management policies have led to significant spectrum under-utilization. Recent measurements showed that large range of the spectrum is sparsely used in both temporal and spatial manner. This conflict between the inefficient usage of the spectrum and the continuous evolution in the wireless communication calls upon the development of more flexible management policies. Cognitive radio (CR) with the dynamic spectrum access (DSA) is considered to be a key technology in making the best solution of this conflict by allowing a group of secondary users (SUs) to share the radio spectrum originally allocated to the primary user (PUs). The operation of CR should not negatively alter the performance of the PUs. Therefore, the interference control along with the highly ...

Musbah Shaat — Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya


Signal processing for monitoring cerebral hemodynamics in neonates

Disturbances in cerebral hemodynamics are one of the principal causes of cerebral damage in premature infants. Specifically, changes in cerebral blood flow might cause ischemia or hemorrhage that can lead to motor and developmental disabilities. Under normal circumstances, there are several mechanisms that act jointly to preserve cerebral hemodynamics homeostasis. However, in case that one of these mechanisms is disrupted the brain is exposed to damage. Premature infants are susceptible to variations in cerebral circulation due to their fragility. Therefore, monitoring cerebral hemodynamics is of vital importance in order to prevent brain damage in this population and avoid subsequent sequelae. This thesis is oriented to the development of signal processing techniques that can be of help in monitoring cerebral hemodynamics in neonates. There are several problems that hinder the use in clinical practice of monitoring cerebral hemodynamics. On one hand, ...

Caicedo Dorado, Alexander — KU Leuven


Emotion assessment for affective computing based on brain and peripheral signals

Current Human-Machine Interfaces (HMI) lack of “emotional intelligence”, i.e. they are not able to identify human emotional states and take this information into account to decide on the proper actions to execute. The goal of affective computing is to fill this lack by detecting emotional cues occurring during Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and synthesizing emotional responses. In the last decades, most of the studies on emotion assessment have focused on the analysis of facial expressions and speech to determine the emotional state of a person. Physiological activity also includes emotional information that can be used for emotion assessment but has received less attention despite of its advantages (for instance it can be less easily faked than facial expressions). This thesis reports on the use of two types of physiological activities to assess emotions in the context of affective computing: the activity ...

Chanel, Guillaume — University of Geneva


Improving data-driven EEG-FMRI analyses for the study of cognitive functioning

Understanding the cognitive processes that are going on in the human brain, requires the combination of several types of observations. For this reason, since several years, neuroscience research started to focus on multimodal approaches. One such multimodal approach is the combination of electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The non-invasive character of these two modalities makes their combination not only harmless and painless, but also especially suited for widespread research in both clinical and experimental applications. Moreover, the complementarity between the high temporal resolution of the EEG and the high spatial resolution of the fMRI, allows obtaining a more complete picture of the processes under study. However, the combination of EEG and fMRI is challenging, not only on the level of the data acquisition, but also when it comes to extracting the activity of interest and interpreting the ...

Vanderperren, Katrien — KU Leuven


Unsupervised Models for White Matter Fiber-Bundles Analysis in Multiple Sclerosis

Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) is a meaningful technique for white matter (WM) fiber-tracking and microstructural characterization of axonal/neuronal integrity and connectivity. By measuring water molecules motion in the three directions of space, numerous parametric maps can be reconstructed. Among these, fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and axial (λa) and radial (λr) diffusivities have extensively been used to investigate brain diseases. Overall, these findings demonstrated that WM and grey matter (GM) tissues are subjected to numerous microstructural alterations in multiple sclerosis (MS). However, it remains unclear whether these tissue alterations result from global processes, such as inflammatory cascades and/or neurodegenerative mechanisms, or local inflammatory and/or demyelinating lesions. Furthermore, these pathological events may occur along afferent or afferent WM fiber pathways, leading to antero- or retrograde degeneration. Thus, for a better understanding of MS pathological processes like its spatial and ...

Stamile, Claudio — Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, KU Leuven


Monitoring Infants by Automatic Video Processing

This work has, as its objective, the development of non-invasive and low-cost systems for monitoring and automatic diagnosing specific neonatal diseases by means of the analysis of suitable video signals. We focus on monitoring infants potentially at risk of diseases characterized by the presence or absence of rhythmic movements of one or more body parts. Seizures and respiratory diseases are specifically considered, but the approach is general. Seizures are defined as sudden neurological and behavioural alterations. They are age-dependent phenomena and the most common sign of central nervous system dysfunction. Neonatal seizures have onset within the 28th day of life in newborns at term and within the 44th week of conceptional age in preterm infants. Their main causes are hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, intracranial haemorrhage, and sepsis. Studies indicate an incidence rate of neonatal seizures of 2‰ live births, 11‰ for preterm ...

Cattani Luca — University of Parma (Italy)


Localisation of Brain Functions: Stimuling Brain Activity and Source Reconstruction for Classification

A key issue in understanding how the brain functions is the ability to correlate functional information with anatomical localisation. Functional information can be provided by a variety of techniques like positron emission tomography (PET), functional MRI (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). All these methods provide different, but complementary, information about the functional areas of the brain. PET and fMRI provide spatially accurate picture of brain regions involved in a given task. TMS permits to infer the contribution of the stimulated brain area to the task under investigation. EEG and MEG, which reflects brain activity directly, have temporal accuracy of the order of a millisecond. TMS, EEG and MEG are offset by their low spatial resolution. In this thesis, we propose two methods to improve the spatial accuracy of method based on TMS and EEG. The ...

Noirhomme, Quentin — Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

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