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In International journal of methods in psychiatric research

OBJECTIVES : Individual anatomical biomarkers have limited power for the classification of autism. The present study introduces a multivariate classification approach using structural magnetic resonance imaging data from individuals with and without autism.

METHODS : The classifier utilizes z-normalization, parameter weighting, and interindividual comparison on brain segmentation data, for estimation of an individual summed total index (TI). The TI indicates whether the gross morphological pattern of each individual's brain is in the direction of cases or controls.

RESULTS : Morphometric analysis found significant differences within subcortical gray matter structures and limbic areas. There was no significant difference in total brain volume. A case-control pilot-study of TIs in normally intelligent individuals with autism (24) and without (21) yielded a maximal accuracy of 78.9% following cross-validation. It showed a high accuracy compared with machine learning methods when tested on the same dataset. The TI correlated well with the autism quotient (R = 0.51) across groups.

CONCLUSION : These results are on par with studies on autism using machine learning. The main contributions are its transparency and simplicity. The possibility of including additional neuroimaging data further increases the potential of the classifier as a diagnostic aid for neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as a research tool for neuroscientific investigations.

Sarovic Darko, Hadjikhani Nouchine, Schneiderman Justin, Lundström Sebastian, Gillberg Christopher


autism spectrum disorder, multivariate classification, structural magnetic resonance imaging, voxel-based morphometry