Exploratory data-driven methods such as unsupervised clustering and independent component analysis (ICA) are considered to be hypothesis-generating procedures, and are complementary to the hypothesis-led statistical inferential methods in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this paper, we present a comparison between unsupervised clustering and ICA in a systematic fMRI study. The comparative results were evaluated by a very detailed ROC analysis.
For the fMRI data, a comparative quantitative evaluation between the three clustering techniques, SOM, "neural gas" network, and fuzzy clustering based on deterministic annealing, and the three ICA methods, FastICA, Infomax and topographic ICA was performed. The ICA methods proved to extract features relatively well for a small number of independent components but are limited to the linear mixture assumption. The unsupervised clustering outperforms ICA in terms of classification results but requires a longer processing time than the ICA methods.