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Neuroimaging allows for the non-invasive study of the brain in rich detail. Data-driven discovery of patterns of population variability in the brain has the potential to be extremely valuable for early disease diagnosis and understanding the brain. The resulting patterns can be used as imaging-derived phenotypes (IDPs), and may complement existing expert-curated IDPs. However, population datasets, comprising many different structural and functional imaging modalities from thousands of subjects, provide a computational challenge not previously addressed. Here, for the first time, a multimodal independent component analysis approach is presented that is scalable for data fusion of voxel-level neuroimaging data in the full UK Biobank (UKB) dataset, that will soon reach 100,000 imaged subjects. This new computational approach can estimate modes of population variability that enhance the ability to predict thousands of phenotypic and behavioural variables using data from UKB and the Human Connectome Project. A high-dimensional decomposition achieved improved predictive power compared with widely-used analysis strategies, single-modality decompositions and existing IDPs. In UKB data (14,503 subjects with 47 different data modalities), many interpretable associations with non-imaging phenotypes were identified, including multimodal spatial maps related to fluid intelligence, handedness and disease, in some cases where IDP-based approaches failed.

Original publication




Journal article


Med Image Anal

Publication Date





Behaviour prediction, Multimodal independent component analysis, Neuroimaging, Phenotype discovery, UK Biobank