Functional connectivity classification of autism identifies highly predictive brain features but falls short of biomarker standards.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES:Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are diagnosed based on early-manifesting clinical symptoms, including markedly impaired social communication. We assessed the viability of resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) connectivity measures as diagnostic biomarkers for ASD and investigated which connectivity features are predictive of a diagnosis. METHODS:Rs-fMRI scans from 59 high functioning males with ASD and 59 age- and IQ-matched typically developing (TD) males were used to build a series of machine learning classifiers. Classification features were obtained using 3 sets of brain regions. Another set of classifiers was built from participants' scores on behavioral metrics. An additional age and IQ-matched cohort of 178 individuals (89 ASD; 89 TD) from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) open-access dataset (http://fcon_1000.projects.nitrc.org/indi/abide/) were included for replication. RESULTS:High classification accuracy was achieved through several rs-fMRI methods (peak accuracy 76.67%). However, classification via behavioral measures consistently surpassed rs-fMRI classifiers (peak accuracy 95.19%). The class probability estimates, P(ASD|fMRI data), from brain-based classifiers significantly correlated with scores on a measure of social functioning, the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS), as did the most informative features from 2 of the 3 sets of brain-based features. The most informative connections predominantly originated from regions strongly associated with social functioning. CONCLUSIONS:While individuals can be classified as having ASD with statistically significant accuracy from their rs-fMRI scans alone, this method falls short of biomarker standards. Classification methods provided further evidence that ASD functional connectivity is characterized by dysfunction of large-scale functional networks, particularly those involved in social information processing.
Project description:Despite consensus on the neurological nature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), brain biomarkers remain unknown and diagnosis continues to be based on behavioral criteria. Growing evidence suggests that brain abnormalities in ASD occur at the level of interconnected networks; however, previous attempts using functional connectivity data for diagnostic classification have reached only moderate accuracy. We selected 252 low-motion resting-state functional MRI (rs-fMRI) scans from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) including typically developing (TD) and ASD participants (n = 126 each), matched for age, non-verbal IQ, and head motion. A matrix of functional connectivities between 220 functionally defined regions of interest was used for diagnostic classification, implementing several machine learning tools. While support vector machines in combination with particle swarm optimization and recursive feature elimination performed modestly (with accuracies for validation datasets <70%), diagnostic classification reached a high accuracy of 91% with random forest (RF), a nonparametric ensemble learning method. Among the 100 most informative features (connectivities), for which this peak accuracy was achieved, participation of somatosensory, default mode, visual, and subcortical regions stood out. Whereas some of these findings were expected, given previous findings of default mode abnormalities and atypical visual functioning in ASD, the prominent role of somatosensory regions was remarkable. The finding of peak accuracy for 100 interregional functional connectivities further suggests that brain biomarkers of ASD may be regionally complex and distributed, rather than localized.
Project description:Autism disorder, generally known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a brain disorder characterized by lack of communication skills, social aloofness and repetitions in the actions in the patients, which is affecting millions of the people across the globe. Accurate identification of autistic patients is considered a challenging task in the domain of brain disorder science. To address this problem, we have proposed a three-stage feature selection approach for the classification of ASD on the preprocessed Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) rs-fMRI Dataset. In the first stage, a large neural network which we call a "Teacher " was trained on the correlation-based connectivity matrix to learn the latent representation of the input. In the second stage an autoencoder which we call a "Student" autoencoder was given the task to learn those trained "Teacher" embeddings using the connectivity matrix input. Lastly, an SFFS-based algorithm was employed to select the subset of most discriminating features between the autistic and healthy controls. On the combined site data across 17 sites, we achieved the maximum 10-fold accuracy of 82% and for the individual site-wise data, based on 5-fold accuracy, our results outperformed other state of the art methods in 13 out of the total 17 site-wise comparisons.
Project description:The identification of autistic individuals using resting state functional connectivity networks can provide an objective diagnostic method for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The present state-of-the-art machine learning model using deep learning has a classification accuracy of 70.2% on the ABIDE (Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange) data set. In this paper, we explore the utility of topological features in the classification of ASD versus typically developing control subjects. These topological features have been shown to provide a complementary source of discriminative information in applications such as 2D object classification and social network analysis. We evaluate the performance of three different representations of topological features - persistence diagrams, persistence images, and persistence landscapes - for autism classification using neural networks, support vector machines and random forests. We also propose a hybrid approach of augmenting topological features with functional correlations, which typically outperforms the models that use functional correlations alone. With this approach, even with a simple 3-layer neural network, we are able to achieve a classification accuracy of 69.2% on the ABIDE data set. However, our experiments also show that the improvement due to topological features is not always statistically significant. Therefore, we offer a cautionary tale to the practitioners regarding the limited discriminative power of topological features derived from fMRI data for the classification of autism.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Nonverbal learning disability (NVLD) is a putative neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by spatial processing deficits as well as social deficits similar to those characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Nonetheless, NVLD may be a distinct disorder that is differentially associated with the functioning and connectivity of the salience (SN) and default mode (DMN) networks that support social processing. Thus, we sought to assess and compare connectivity across these networks in children with NVLD, ASD, and typically developing children. METHOD:Resting-state fMRI data were examined in 17 children with NVLD, 17 children with ASD selected from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE), and 40 TD children (20 from ABIDE). Average DMN and SN functional connectivity and pairwise region-to-region connectivity were compared across groups. Associations with social impairment and IQ were assessed. RESULTS:Children with NVLD showed reduced connectivity between SN regions (anterior insula to anterior cingulate and to rostral prefrontal cortex [rPFC]), whereas children with ASD showed greater connectivity between SN regions (supramarginal gyrus to rPFC) relative to the other groups. Both clinical groups showed higher levels of parent-reported social problems, which related to altered SN connectivity in the NVLD group. No differences were detected in overall average connectivity within or between networks. CONCLUSIONS:The social deficits common across children with NVLD and ASD may derive from distinct alterations in connectivity within the SN. Such findings represent the first step toward identifying a neurobiological signature of NVLD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
Project description:Many brain-based disorders are traditionally diagnosed based on clinical interviews and behavioral assessments, which are recognized to be largely imperfect. Therefore, it is necessary to establish neuroimaging-based biomarkers to improve diagnostic precision. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) is a promising technique for the characterization and classification of varying disorders. However, most of these classification methods are supervised, i.e., they require a priori clinical labels to guide classification. In this study, we adopted various unsupervised clustering methods using static and dynamic rs-fMRI connectivity measures to investigate whether the clinical diagnostic grouping of different disorders is grounded in underlying neurobiological and phenotypic clusters. In order to do so, we derived a general analysis pipeline for identifying different brain-based disorders using genetic algorithm-based feature selection, and unsupervised clustering methods on four different datasets; three of them-ADNI, ADHD-200, and ABIDE-which are publicly available, and a fourth one-PTSD and PCS-which was acquired in-house. Using these datasets, the effectiveness of the proposed pipeline was verified on different disorders: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer's Disease (AD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS). For ADHD and AD, highest similarity was achieved between connectivity and phenotypic clusters, whereas for ASD and PTSD/PCS, highest similarity was achieved between connectivity and clinical diagnostic clusters. For multi-site data (ABIDE and ADHD-200), we report site-specific results. We also reported the effect of elimination of outlier subjects for all four datasets. Overall, our results suggest that neurobiological and phenotypic biomarkers could potentially be used as an aid by the clinician, in additional to currently available clinical diagnostic standards, to improve diagnostic precision. Data and source code used in this work is publicly available at https://github.com/xinyuzhao/identification-of-brain-based-disorders.git.
Project description:Resting-state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (rs-fMRI) has been extensively used for diagnostic classification because it does not require task compliance and is easier to pool data from multiple imaging sites, thereby increasing the sample size. A MATLAB-based toolbox called Machine Learning in NeuroImaging (MALINI) for feature extraction and disease classification is presented. The MALINI toolbox extracts functional and effective connectivity features from preprocessed rs-fMRI data and performs classification between healthy and disease groups using any of 18 popular and widely used machine learning algorithms that are based on diverse principles. A consensus classifier combining the power of multiple classifiers is also presented. The utility of the toolbox is illustrated by accompanying data consisting of resting-state functional connectivity features from healthy controls and subjects with various brain-based disorders: autism spectrum disorder from autism brain imaging data exchange (ABIDE), Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment from Alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative (ADNI), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from ADHD-200, and post-traumatic stress disorder and post-concussion syndrome acquired in-house. Results of classification performed on the above datasets can be obtained from the main article titled "Supervised machine learning for diagnostic classification from large-scale neuroimaging datasets" . The data was divided into homogeneous and heterogeneous splits, such that 80% could be used for training, model building and cross-validation, while the remaining 20% of the data could be used as a hold-out independent test data for replication of the classification performance, to ensure the robustness of the classifiers to population variance in image acquisition site and age of the sample.
Project description:Neurodevelopmental disconnections have been assumed to cause behavioral alterations in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Here, we combined measurements of intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with task-based fMRI to explore whether altered activity and/or iFC of the right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) mediates deficits in emotion recognition in ASD. Fifteen adults with ASD and 15 matched-controls underwent resting-state and task-based fMRI, during which participants discriminated emotional states from point light displays (PLDs). Intrinsic FC of the right pSTS was further examined using 584 (278 ASD/306 controls) resting-state data of the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE). Participants with ASD were less accurate than controls in recognizing emotional states from PLDs. Analyses revealed pronounced ASD-related reductions both in task-based activity and resting-state iFC of the right pSTS with fronto-parietal areas typically encompassing the action observation network (AON). Notably, pSTS-hypo-activity was related to pSTS-hypo-connectivity, and both measures were predictive of emotion recognition performance with each measure explaining a unique part of the variance. Analyses with the large independent ABIDE dataset replicated reductions in pSTS-iFC to fronto-parietal regions. These findings provide novel evidence that pSTS hypo-activity and hypo-connectivity with the fronto-parietal AON are linked to the social deficits characteristic of ASD.
Project description:No univocal and reliable brain-based biomarkers have been detected to date in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Neuroimaging studies have consistently revealed alterations in brain structure and function of individuals with ASD; however, it remains difficult to ascertain the extent and localization of affected brain networks. In this context, the application of Machine Learning (ML) classification methods to neuroimaging data has the potential to contribute to a better distinction between subjects with ASD and typical development controls (TD). This study is focused on the analysis of resting-state fMRI data of individuals with ASD and matched TD, available within the ABIDE collection. To reduce the multiple sources of heterogeneity that impact on understanding the neural underpinnings of autistic condition, we selected a subgroup of 190 subjects (102 with ASD and 88 TD) according to the following criteria: male children (age range: 6.5-13 years); rs-fMRI data acquired with open eyes; data from the University sites that provided the largest number of scans (KKI, NYU, UCLA, UM). Connectivity values were evaluated as the linear correlation between pairs of time series of brain areas; then, a Linear kernel Support Vector Machine (L-SVM) classification, with an inter-site cross-validation scheme, was carried out. A permutation test was conducted to identify over-connectivity and under-connectivity alterations in the ASD group. The mean L-SVM classification performance, in terms of the area under the ROC curve (AUC), was 0.75 ± 0.05. The highest performance was obtained using data from KKI, NYU and UCLA sites in training and data from UM as testing set (AUC = 0.83). Specifically, stronger functional connectivity (FC) in ASD with respect to TD involve (p < 0.001) the angular gyrus with the precuneus in the right (R) hemisphere, and the R frontal operculum cortex with the pars opercularis of the left (L) inferior frontal gyrus. Weaker connections in ASD group with respect to TD are the intra-hemispheric R temporal fusiform cortex with the R hippocampus, and the L supramarginal gyrus with L planum polare. The results indicate that both under- and over-FC occurred in a selected cohort of ASD children relative to TD controls, and that these functional alterations are spread in different brain networks.
Project description:Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with disrupted brain networks. Neuroimaging techniques provide noninvasive methods of investigating abnormal connectivity patterns in ASD. In the present study, we compare functional connectivity networks in people with ASD with those in typical controls, using neuroimaging data from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) project. Specifically, we focus on the characteristics of intrinsic functional connectivity based on data collected by resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). Our aim was to identify disrupted brain connectivity patterns across all networks, instead of in individual edges, by using advanced statistical methods. Unlike many brain connectome studies, in which networks are prespecified before the edge connectivity in each network is compared between clinical groups, we detected the latent differentially expressed networks automatically. Our network-level analysis identified abnormal connectome networks that (i) included a high proportion of edges that were differentially expressed between people with ASD and typical controls; and (ii) showed highly-organized graph topology. These findings provide new insight into the study of the underlying neuropsychiatric mechanism of ASD.
Project description:Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data are 4-dimensional volumes (3-space + 1-time) that have been posited to reflect the underlying mechanisms of information exchange between brain regions, thus making it an attractive modality to develop diagnostic biomarkers of brain dysfunction. The enormous success of deep learning in computer vision has sparked recent interest in applying deep learning in neuroimaging. But the dimensionality of rs-fMRI data is too high (~20 M), making it difficult to meaningfully process the data in its raw form for deep learning experiments. It is currently not clear how the data should be engineered to optimally extract the time information, and whether combining different representations of time could provide better results. In this paper, we explored various transformations that retain the full spatial resolution by summarizing the temporal dimension of the rs-fMRI data, therefore making it possible to train a full three-dimensional convolutional neural network (3D-CNN) even on a moderately sized [~2,000 from Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE)-I and II] data set. These transformations summarize the activity in each voxel of the rs-fMRI or that of the voxel and its neighbors to a single number. For each brain volume, we calculated regional homogeneity, the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations, the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations, degree centrality, eigenvector centrality, local functional connectivity density, entropy, voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity, and auto-correlation lag. We trained the 3D-CNN on a publically available autism dataset to classify the rs-fMRI images as being from individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or from healthy controls (CON) at an individual level. We attained results competitive on this task for a combined ABIDE-I and II datasets of ~66%. When all summary measures were combined the result was still only as good as that of the best single measure which was regional homogeneity (ReHo). In addition, we also applied the support vector machine (SVM) algorithm on the same dataset and achieved comparable results, suggesting that 3D-CNNs could not learn additional information from these temporal transformations that were more useful to differentiate ASD from CON.