Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Malek Adjouadi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Armando Barreto

Third Advisor's Name

Jean H. Andrian

Fourth Advisor's Name

S. Masoud Sadjadi


Pediatric Epilepsy, Language Network, Connectome, Graph Theory, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Independent Component Analysis

Date of Defense



This dissertation introduces a new approach for assessing the effects of pediatric epilepsy on the language connectome. Two novel data-driven network construction approaches are presented. These methods rely on connecting different brain regions using either extent or intensity of language related activations as identified by independent component analysis of fMRI data. An auditory description decision task (ADDT) paradigm was used to activate the language network for 29 patients and 30 controls recruited from three major pediatric hospitals. Empirical evaluations illustrated that pediatric epilepsy can cause, or is associated with, a network efficiency reduction. Patients showed a propensity to inefficiently employ the whole brain network to perform the ADDT language task; on the contrary, controls seemed to efficiently use smaller segregated network components to achieve the same task. To explain the causes of the decreased efficiency, graph theoretical analysis was carried out. The analysis revealed no substantial global network feature differences between the patient and control groups. It also showed that for both subject groups the language network exhibited small-world characteristics; however, the patient’s extent of activation network showed a tendency towards more random networks. It was also shown that the intensity of activation network displayed ipsilateral hub reorganization on the local level. The left hemispheric hubs displayed greater centrality values for patients, whereas the right hemispheric hubs displayed greater centrality values for controls. This hub hemispheric disparity was not correlated with a right atypical language laterality found in six patients. Finally it was shown that a multi-level unsupervised clustering scheme based on self-organizing maps, a type of artificial neural network, and k-means was able to fairly and blindly separate the subjects into their respective patient or control groups. The clustering was initiated using the local nodal centrality measurements only. Compared to the extent of activation network, the intensity of activation network clustering demonstrated better precision. This outcome supports the assertion that the local centrality differences presented by the intensity of activation network can be associated with focal epilepsy.





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