Predicting symptom severity in autism spectrum disorder based on cortical thickness measures in agglomerative data

Elaheh Moradi, Budhachandra Khundrakpam, John D. Lewis, Alan C. Evans, Jussi Tohka

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)


    Machine learning approaches have been widely used for the identification of neuropathology from neuroimaging data. However, these approaches require large samples and suffer from the challenges associated with multi-site, multi-protocol data. We propose a novel approach to address these challenges, and demonstrate its usefulness with the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) database. We predict symptom severity based on cortical thickness measurements from 156 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from four different sites. The proposed approach consists of two main stages: a domain adaptation stage using partial least squares regression to maximize the consistency of imaging data across sites: and a learning stage combining support vector regression for regional prediction of severity with elastic-net penalized linear regression for integrating regional predictions into a whole-brain severity prediction. The proposed method performed markedly better than simpler alternatives, better with multi-site than single-site data, and resulted in a considerably higher cross-validated correlation score than has previously been reported in the literature for multi-site data. This demonstration of the utility of the proposed approach for detecting structural brain abnormalities in ASD from the multi-site, multi-protocol ABIDE dataset indicates the potential of designing machine learning methods to meet the challenges of agglomerative data.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128–141
    Issue numberA
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Cortical thickness
    • Domain adaptation
    • Machine learning
    • Magnetic resonance imaging

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 2


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