Using resting state functional MRI to build a personalized autism diagnosis system
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder associated with social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted and repetitive behaviors. Yet, there is no confirmed cause identified for ASD. Studying the functional connectivity of the brain is an emerging technique used in diagnosing and understanding ASD. In this study, we obtained the resting state functional MRI data of 283 subjects from the National Database of Autism Research (NDAR). An automated autism diagnosis system was built using the data from NDAR. The proposed system is machine learning based. Power spectral densities (PSDs) of time courses corresponding to the spatial activation areas are used as input features, feeds them to a stacked autoencoder then builds a classifier using probabilistic support vector machines. Over the used dataset, around 90% of sensitivity, specificity and accuracy was achieved by our machine learning system. Moreover, the system generalization ability was checked over two different prevalence values, one for the general population and the other for the of high risk population, and the system proved to be very generalizable, especially among the population of high risk. The proposed system generates a full personalized report for each subject, along with identifying the global differences between ASD and typically developed (TD) subjects and its ability to diagnose autism. It shows the impacted areas and the severity of implications. From the clinical aspect, this report is considered very valuable as it helps in both predicting and understanding behavior of autistic subjects. Moreover, it helps in designing a plan for personalized treatment per each individual subject. The proposed work is taking a step towards achieving personalized medicine in autism which is the ultimate goal of our group’s research efforts in this area.