ADHD-200 Global Competition: diagnosing ADHD using personal characteristic data can outperform resting state fMRI measurements

Front Syst Neurosci. 2012 Sep 28:6:69. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00069. eCollection 2012.


Neuroimaging-based diagnostics could potentially assist clinicians to make more accurate diagnoses resulting in faster, more effective treatment. We participated in the 2011 ADHD-200 Global Competition which involved analyzing a large dataset of 973 participants including Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) patients and healthy controls. Each participant's data included a resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan as well as personal characteristic and diagnostic data. The goal was to learn a machine learning classifier that used a participant's resting state fMRI scan to diagnose (classify) that individual into one of three categories: healthy control, ADHD combined (ADHD-C) type, or ADHD inattentive (ADHD-I) type. We used participants' personal characteristic data (site of data collection, age, gender, handedness, performance IQ, verbal IQ, and full scale IQ), without any fMRI data, as input to a logistic classifier to generate diagnostic predictions. Surprisingly, this approach achieved the highest diagnostic accuracy (62.52%) as well as the highest score (124 of 195) of any of the 21 teams participating in the competition. These results demonstrate the importance of accounting for differences in age, gender, and other personal characteristics in imaging diagnostics research. We discuss further implications of these results for fMRI-based diagnosis as well as fMRI-based clinical research. We also document our tests with a variety of imaging-based diagnostic methods, none of which performed as well as the logistic classifier using only personal characteristic data.

Keywords: ADHD; ICA; children; classifier; diagnosis; functional connectivity; machine learning; multivoxel pattern analysis.