This article describes a novel approach to identify autism spectrum disorder (ASD) utilizing regional and interregional morphological patterns extracted from structural magnetic resonance images. Two types of features are extracted to characterize the morphological patterns: (1) Regional features, which includes the cortical thickness, volumes of cortical gray matter, and cortical-associated white matter regions, and several subcortical structures extracted from different regions-of-interest (ROIs); (2) Interregional features, which convey the morphological change pattern between pairs of ROIs. We demonstrate that the integration of regional and interregional features via multi-kernel learning technique can significantly improve the classification performance of ASD, compared with using either regional or interregional features alone. Specifically, the proposed framework achieves an accuracy of 96.27% and an area of 0.9952 under the receiver operating characteristic curve, indicating excellent diagnostic power and generalizability. The best performance is achieved when both feature types are weighted approximately equal, indicating complementary between these two feature types. Regions that contributed the most to classification are in line with those reported in the previous studies, particularly the subcortical structures that are highly associated with human emotional modulation and memory formation. The autistic brains demonstrate a significant rightward asymmetry pattern particularly in the auditory language areas. These findings are in agreement with the fact that ASD is a behavioral- and language-related neurodevelopmental disorder. By concurrent consideration of both regional and interregional features, the current work presents an effective means for better characterization of neurobiological underpinnings of ASD that facilitates its identification from typically developing children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Radiological and Ultrasound Technology