This article compares three binary Markov random fields (MRFs) which are popular Bayesian priors for spatial smoothing. These are the Ising prior and two priors based on latent Gaussian MRFs. Concern is given to the selection of a suitable Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling scheme for each prior. The properties of the three priors and sampling schemes are investigated in the context of three empirical examples. The first is a simulated dataset, the second involves a confocal fluorescence microscopy dataset, while the third is based on the analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. In the case of the Ising prior, single site and multisite Swendsen-Wang sampling schemes are both considered. The single site scheme is shown to work consistently well, while it is shown that the Swendsen-Wang algorithm can have convergence problems. The sampling schemes for the priors are extended to generate the smoothing parameters, so that estimation becomes fully automatic. Although this works well, it is found that for highly contiguous images fixing smoothing parameters to very high values can improve results by injecting additional prior information concerning the level of contiguity in the image. The relative properties of the three binary MRFs are investigated, and it is shown how the Ising prior in particular defines sharp edges and encourages clustering. In addition, one of the latent Gaussian MRF priors is shown to be unable to distinguish between higher levels of smoothing. In the context of the fMRI example we also undertake a simulation study.
- Ising Prior,
- Conditional Autoregression,
- Bayesian image analysis,
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_smith/6/