fMRI Pattern Classification using Neuroanatomically Constrained Boosting

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Pattern classification in functional MRI (fMRI) is a novel methodology to automatically identify differences in distributed neural substrates resulting from cognitive tasks. Reliable pattern classification is challenging due to the high dimensionality of fMRI data, the small number of available data sets, interindividual differences, and dependence on the acquisition methodology. Thus, most previous fMRI classification methods were applied in individual subjects. In this study, we developed a novel approach to improve multiclass classification across groups of subjects, field strengths, and fMRI methods. Spatially normalized activation maps were segmented into functional areas using a neuroanatomical atlas and each map was classified separately using local classifiers. A single multiclass output was applied using a weighted aggregation of the classifier’s outputs. An Adaboost technique was applied, modified to find the optimal aggregation of a set of spatially distributed classifiers. This Adaboost combined the regionspecific classifiers to achieve improved classification accuracy with respect to conventional techniques. Multiclass classification accuracy was assessed in an fMRI group study with interleaved motor, visual, auditory, and cognitive task design. Data were acquired across 18 subjects at different field strengths (1.5 T, 4 T), with different pulse sequence parameters (voxel size and readout bandwidth). Misclassification rates of the boosted classifier were between 3.5% and 10%, whereas for the single classifier, these were between 15% and 23%, suggesting that the boosted classifier provides a better generalization ability together with better robustness. The high computational speed of boosting classification makes it attractive for real-time fMRI to facilitate online interpretation of dynamically changing activation patterns
Functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, Pattern classification, Support vector machines, Adaboost
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Neuroimage, Vol. 31, nº 3, pp. 1129-1141, July 2006