A statistically motivated framework for simulation of stochastic data fusion models applied to multimodal neuroimaging

Rogers F. Silva, Sergey M. Plis, Tülay Adali, Vince D. Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Multimodal fusion is becoming more common as it proves to be a powerful approach to identify complementary information from multimodal datasets. However, simulation of joint information is not straightforward. Published approaches mostly employ limited, provisional designs that often break the link between the model assumptions and the data for the sake of demonstrating properties of fusion techniques. This work introduces a new approach to synthetic data generation which allows full-compliance between data and model while still representing realistic spatiotemporal features in accordance with the current neuroimaging literature. The focus is on the simulation of joint information for the verification of stochastic linear models, particularly those used in multimodal data fusion of brain imaging data.Our first goal is to obtain a benchmark ground-truth in which estimation errors due to model mismatch are minimal or none. Then we move on to assess how estimation is affected by gradually increasing model discrepancies toward a more realistic dataset. The key aspect of our approach is that it permits complete control over the type and level of model mismatch, allowing for more educated inferences about the limitations and caveats of select stochastic linear models. As a result, impartial comparison of models is possible based on their performance in multiple different scenarios.Our proposed method uses the commonly overlooked theory of copulas to enable full control of the type and level of dependence/association between modalities, with no occurrence of spurious multimodal associations. Moreover, our approach allows for arbitrary single-modality marginal distributions for any fixed choice of dependence/association between multimodal features. Using our simulation framework, we can rigorously challenge the assumptions of several existing multimodal fusion approaches.Our study brings a new perspective to the problem of simulating multimodal data that can be used for ground-truth verification of various stochastic multimodal models available in the literature, and reveals some important aspects that are not captured or are overlooked by ad hoc simulations that lack a firm statistical motivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-117
Number of pages26
Issue numberP1
StatePublished - Nov 5 2014


  • Copula
  • Fusion
  • ICA
  • Multidimensional
  • Multimodal
  • Simulation
  • Stochastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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