Detection of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury by Machine Learning Classification Using Resting State Functional Network Connectivity and Fractional Anisotropy

J Neurotrauma. 2017 Mar 1;34(5):1045-1053. doi: 10.1089/neu.2016.4526. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may adversely affect a person's thinking, memory, personality, and behavior. While mild TBI (mTBI) diagnosis is challenging, there is a risk for long-term psychiatric, neurologic, and psychosocial problems in some patients that motivates the search for new and better biomarkers. Recently, diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) has shown promise in detecting mTBI, but its validity is still being investigated. Resting state functional network connectivity (rsFNC) is another approach that is emerging as a promising option for the diagnosis of mTBI. The present work investigated the use of rsFNC for mTBI detection compared with dMRI results on the same cohort. Fifty patients with mTBI (25 males) and age-sex matched healthy controls were recruited. Features from dMRI were obtained using all voxels, the enhanced Z-score microstructural assessment for pathology, and the distribution corrected Z-score. Features based on rsFNC were obtained through group independent component analysis and correlation between pairs of resting state networks. A linear support vector machine was used for classification and validated using leave-one-out cross validation. Classification achieved a maximum accuracy of 84.1% for rsFNC and 75.5% for dMRI and 74.5% for both combined. A t test analysis revealed significant increase in rsFNC between cerebellum versus sensorimotor networks and between left angular gyrus versus precuneus in subjects with mTBI. These outcomes suggest that inclusion of both common and unique information is important for classification of mTBI. Results also suggest that rsFNC can yield viable biomarkers that might outperform dMRI and points to connectivity to the cerebellum as an important region for the detection of mTBI.

Keywords: diffusion tensor imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain Concussion / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Cerebellum / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebellum / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Support Vector Machine*
  • Young Adult