Bai, Li; Wang, Ze; Kim, Albert; Lu, Xiaonan; Ji, Bo, 1982- (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      Arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive technique for measuring quantitative cerebral blood flow (CBF) but subject to an inherently low signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR), resulting in a big challenge for data processing. Traditional post-processing methods have been proposed to reduce artifacts, suppress non-local noise, and remove outliers. However, these methods are based on either implicit or explicit models of the data, which may not be accurate and may change across subjects. Deep learning (DL) is an emerging machine learning technique that can learn a transform function from acquired data without using any explicit hypothesis about that function. Such flexibility may be particularly beneficial for ASL denoising. In this dissertation, three different machine learning-based methods are proposed to improve the image quality of ASL MRI: 1) a learning-from-noise method, which does not require noise-free references for DL training, was proposed for DL-based ASL denoising and BOLD-to-ASL prediction; 2) a novel deep learning neural network that combines dilated convolution and wide activation residual blocks was proposed to improve the image quality of ASL CBF while reducing ASL acquisition time; 3) a prior-guided and slice-wise adaptive outlier cleaning algorithm was developed for ASL MRI. In the first part of this dissertation, a learning-from-noise method is proposed for DL-based method for ASL denoising. The proposed learning-from-noise method shows that DL-based ASL denoising models can be trained using only noisy image pairs, without any deliberate post-processing for obtaining the quasi-noise-free reference during the training process. This learning-from-noise method can also be applied to DL-based ASL perfusion prediction from BOLD fMRI as ASL references are extremely noisy in this BOLD-to-ASL prediction. Experimental results demonstrate that this learning-from-noise method can reliably denoise ASL MRI and predict ASL perfusion from BOLD fMRI, result in improved signal-to-noise-ration (SNR) of ASL MRI. Moreover, by using this method, more training data can be generated, as it requires fewer samples to generate quasi-noise-free references, which is particularly useful when ASL CBF data are limited. In the second part of this dissertation, we propose a novel deep learning neural network, i.e., Dilated Wide Activation Network (DWAN), that is optimized for ASL denoising. Our method presents two novelties: first, we incorporated the wide activation residual blocks with a dilated convolution neural network to achieve improved denoising performance in term of several quantitative and qualitative measurements; second, we evaluated our proposed model given different inputs and references to show that our denoising model can be generalized to input with different levels of SNR and yields images with better quality than other methods. In the final part of this dissertation, a prior-guided and slice-wise adaptive outlier cleaning (PAOCSL) method is proposed to improve the original Adaptive Outlier Cleaning (AOC) method. Prior information guided reference CBF maps are used to avoid bias from extreme outliers in the early iterations of outlier cleaning, ensuring correct identification of the true outliers. Slice-wise outlier rejection is adapted to reserve slices with CBF values in the reasonable range even they are within the outlier volumes. Experimental results show that the proposed outlier cleaning method improves both CBF quantification quality and CBF measurement stability.