Role of Artificial Intelligence for Autism Diagnosis Using DTI and fMRI: A Survey

Biomedicines. 2023 Jun 29;11(7):1858. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines11071858.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a wide range of diseases characterized by difficulties with social skills, repetitive activities, speech, and nonverbal communication. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 44 American children currently suffer from ASD. The current gold standard for ASD diagnosis is based on behavior observational tests by clinicians, which suffer from being subjective and time-consuming and afford only late detection (a child must have a mental age of at least two to apply for an observation report). Alternatively, brain imaging-more specifically, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-has proven its ability to assist in fast, objective, and early ASD diagnosis and detection. With the recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques, sufficient tools have been developed for both automated ASD diagnosis and early detection. More recently, the development of deep learning (DL), a young subfield of AI based on artificial neural networks (ANNs), has successfully enabled the processing of brain MRI data with improved ASD diagnostic abilities. This survey focuses on the role of AI in autism diagnostics and detection based on two basic MRI modalities: diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional MRI (fMRI). In addition, the survey outlines the basic findings of DTI and fMRI in autism. Furthermore, recent techniques for ASD detection using DTI and fMRI are summarized and discussed. Finally, emerging tendencies are described. The results of this study show how useful AI is for early, subjective ASD detection and diagnosis. More AI solutions that have the potential to be used in healthcare settings will be introduced in the future.

Keywords: DTI; artificial intelligence; autism spectrum disorder (ASD); deep learning; diagnostics; fMRI; survey.