Machine Learning Based Classification of Resting-State fMRI Features Exemplified by Metabolic State (Hunger/Satiety)

Front Hum Neurosci. 2019 May 28;13:164. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00164. eCollection 2019.


Objective: Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) has become an essential measure to investigate the human brain's spontaneous activity and intrinsic functional connectivity. Several studies including our own previous work have shown that the brain controls the regulation of energy expenditure and food intake behavior. Accordingly, we expected different metabolic states to influence connectivity and activity patterns in neuronal networks.

Methods: The influence of hunger and satiety on rs-fMRI was investigated using three connectivity models (local connectivity, global connectivity and amplitude rs-fMRI signals). After extracting the connectivity parameters of 90 brain regions for each model, we used sequential forward floating selection strategy in conjunction with a linear support vector machine classifier and permutation tests to reveal which connectivity model differentiates best between metabolic states (hunger vs. satiety).

Results: We found that the amplitude of rs-fMRI signals is slightly more precise than local and global connectivity models in order to detect resting brain changes during hunger and satiety with a classification accuracy of 81%.

Conclusion: The amplitude of rs-fMRI signals serves as a suitable basis for machine learning based classification of brain activity. This opens up the possibility to apply this combination of algorithms to similar research questions, such as the characterization of brain states (e.g., sleep stages) or disease conditions (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, minimal cognitive impairment).

Keywords: brain functional activity and connectivity; feature selection; hunger; resting-state fMRI; satiety; support vector machine.