Classification of Resting-State fMRI using Evolutionary Algorithms: Towards a Brain Imaging Biomarker for Parkinson's Disease

11 Oct 2019  ·  Amir Dehsarvi, Stephen L. Smith ·

Accurate early diagnosis and monitoring of neurodegenerative conditions is essential for effective disease management and delivery of medication and treatment. This research develops automatic methods for detecting brain imaging preclinical biomarkers for Parkinson's disease (PD) by considering the novel application of evolutionary algorithms. A fundamental novel element of this work is the use of evolutionary algorithms to both map and predict the functional connectivity in patients using resting state functional MRI data taken from the PPMI to identify PD progression biomarkers. Specifically, Cartesian Genetic Programming was used to classify DCM data as well as time-series data. The findings were validated using two other commonly used classification methods (Artificial Neural Networks and Support Vector Machines) and by employing k-fold cross-validation. Across DCM and time-series analyses, findings revealed maximum accuracies of 75.21% for early stage (prodromal) PD patients versus healthy controls, 85.87% for PD patients versus prodromal PD patients, and 92.09% for PD patients versus healthy controls. Prodromal PD patients were classified from healthy controls with high accuracy - this is notable and represents the key finding of this research since current methods of diagnosing prodromal PD have both low reliability and low accuracy. Furthermore, Cartesian Genetic Programming provided comparable performance accuracy relative to ANN and SVM. Evolutionary algorithms enable us to decode the classifier in terms of understanding the data inputs that are used, more easily than in ANN and SVM. Hence, these findings underscore the relevance of both DCM analyses for classification and CGP as a novel classification tool for brain imaging data with medical implications for disease diagnosis, particularly in early and asymptomatic stages.

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