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Specifically, examples corresponding to ASD and DC subjects were randomly divided into 10 folds, each of them used in turn to compute the AUC on remaining samples. The overall performance of the model was then measured as the average AUC obtained over all 10 folds [ 43 ]. Random forest classifiers provide an efficient way to measure feature importance [ 44 ]. During the induction phase, discriminative features are selected first when constructing decision trees.

Hippocampus and amygdala radiomic biomarkers for the study of autism spectrum disorder

In particular, root nodes of decision trees represent the most group-informative features. Following this principle, we used the TreeBagger Matlab function to learn a random forest containing decision trees, for the task of differentiating between ASD and DC subjects. We then measured the importance of features as the frequency at which these features occur in the root node of a decision tree 0— times.

Note that feature importance was also measured as the increase in prediction error resulting from permuting features across out-of-bag examples, this strategy giving a similar feature ranking as the one based on root nodes. Randomness testing is used to quantify the p values of individual features and feature combinations [ 45 ]. An empirical null distribution is generated from multiple trials, in which subject labels are randomly permutated, thus rendering them information-less regarding the data i.

Significance p values for individual features are then calculated by integrating the tails of the null distribution, based on classification accuracy using true non-randomized labels. Addressing the group-wise significance is also important, as a number of features may appear significant due to random chance, particularly in a calculation involving high numbers of features.

Techniques such as Bonferroni correction can be overly penalizing, a common alternative is to compute the false discovery rate [ 46 ]. In this work, we control the family-wise error rate using the Holm—Bonferroni procedure, which is known to be uniformly more powerful than Bonferroni correction. Demographic information i. Except for across-gender age differences in group B, no statistically significant differences in age were found between male and female subjects or between ASD and DC subjects.

The age bias in group B could be related to the fact that girls are less likely than boys to meet diagnostic criteria for ASD [ 47 , 48 ]. The inter-rater reliability of manual segmentation labels is reported in Fig. This confirms the quality of manual labels, in particular for hippocampal regions. ASD versus DC classification performance.

Mean receiver operating characteristic ROC curve and AUC obtained by the SVM using the texture features derived from hippocampus black curves and amygdala red curves regions in typical group A and non-typical group B age range subjects. StDev standard deviation. Dominant feature identification. First row Hippocampus-derived features; second row amygdala-derived features. Each bar represents the occurrence number of a feature in decision-tree root nodes from 0 to Group A left and group B right contains typical and non-typical age range subjects, respectively.

Radiomic features, and particulary those encoding texture, enable the quantification of voxel or pixels inter-relationships, describing characteristics of underlying tissues that may be invisible to the human visual system [ 49 ].

Causes of autism - Wikipedia

For example, texture features can help segment lesions in glioblastoma multiforme [ 50 ]. However, the link between texture in neuroanatomical regions and ASD has so far been unclear. In this study, GLCM-based texture features derived from the hippocampus 11 features and amygdala 11 features regions were used for differentiating between ASD and DC subjects.

Note that the gender differences in the untypical age group i. Various studies in the literature have reported abnormal brain development curves for ASD subjects, which may lead to volumetric differences in structures like the hippocampus [ 16 , 54 ]. It is possible that this abnormal development affects the underlying substrate, thereby leading to the observed differences in texture.

Our classification analysis based on SVM showed a higher performance accuracy and AUC of texture features from the hippocampus than those derived from the amygdala, with a mean accuracy of This suggests that hippocampus texture features could be used effectively as biomarkers for detecting ASD. In particular, our feature importance analysis based on random forests indicated hippocampus GLCM correlation to be the most discriminative feature for differentiating between ASD and DC subjects Fig.

This feature measures the linear dependency of grey levels between neighboring pixels, and is related to region heterogeneity e. Our findings on the non-difference of amygdala texture features between ASD and DC subjects group A are consistent with previous studies showing no significance difference in amygdala volume between ASD and DC subjects [ 55 ]. Although other studies have reported an enlarged amygdala in ASD subjects [ 16 , 56 , 57 ], the differences observed for non-typical age range subjects group B could be due to the age bias from using non-matched ASD and DC subjects.

Assessment and Intervention of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Our proposed approach differs from traditional techniques, which mostly rely on morphological and volumetric characteristics [ 16 — 18 ]. Research suggests that the white matter in young children with ASD may be abnormally homogeneous, and this may reflect poor organization or differentiation of pathways in the temporal lobe [ 58 ]. Another study using multimodality neuroimaging e. Moreover, a recent study demonstrated that the differences between ASD and DC may depend on acquisition site.

This study suggested applying a significance-weighted principal component analysis PCA technique to reduce the undesired intensity variance, thereby increasing the statistical power in detecting the differences between ASD and DC groups [ 60 ]. However, the classifier accuracy between ASD and DC was not sufficient to classify diagnostic groups. Nevertheless, this study motivated our decision of using data from a single site, instead of all available sites, to avoid introducing cross-site intensity variance in our analysis of texture.

Other studies have argued that MRI techniques are too spatiotemporally limited to appreciate the synaptic or neuronal-level abnormalities that may be at the of disorders like ASD [ 61 ]. Our work suggests that MRI texture, which stem from tissue heterogeneity, could capture these abnormalities at a higher scale and, thus, be used for understanding ASD.

A broader investigation involving more subjects would however be required to clarify the nature of texture differences and their impact on ASD. Our study has several limitations worth of mention. The number of subjects i. However, the primary goal of this study was to assess the feasibility of using texture features derived from neuroanatomical region for discriminating between the ASD and DC subjects.

Moreover, employing more advanced methods for segmenting brain regions and classification, for instance based on deep learning, could potentially increase the performance of our approach. This paper presented a radiomic approach using GLCM texture features derived from hippocampal and amygdala regions to characterize differences between ASD and development control subjects.

Our preliminary results show the potential of these features as a biomarker to aid clinicians in the diagnostic of ASD. Texture features derived from the hippocampus, and particularly GLCM correlation, were found to have significant discriminative power for differentiating between ASD and control subjects. Future work can include a validation of the proposed approach on a larger subject cohort, and using additional imaging modalities.

AC and CD contributed to the design of the study, collected and analyzed data, wrote and edited the manuscript; LH contributed to the design of the study and helped to draft the manuscript; CT conceived of the study and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript. Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Research article Open Access. Hippocampus and amygdala radiomic biomarkers for the study of autism spectrum disorder. Abstract Background Emerging evidence suggests the presence of neuroanatomical abnormalities in subjects with autism spectrum disorder ASD.

Conclusions Results demonstrate the potential of hippocampal texture features as a biomarker for the diagnosis and characterization of ASD. Autism spectrum disorder Hippocampus Radiomics. The flowchart of the proposed method, shown in Fig. The data used in our study and these steps are discussed in following sub-sections. We considered the following two subject groups: A typical age range children, further divided into A1 14 children with ASD 6 males, 8 females; median age Within this group, the 6 males and 8 females with ASD were individually matched based on age with the 6 males and 8 females labeled as DC.

Subjects in this unbalanced group 20 ASD vs 16 DC were not age-matched, allowing us to evaluate the effect of this confound in our analysis.

A Short Review on the Current Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders

We see that these histograms are similar to one another and, therefore, that raw intensity values in the hippocampus are not reliable for differentiating between ASD and DC subjects. More informative features, such as those encoding texture, are thus necessary to the capture the subtle differences arising from ASD. Toward this goal, we used the segmentation masks of hippocampus and amygdala regions to extract texture features based on GLCM. Neighboring pixels are known to exhibit correlation in natural images.

GLCMs are second-order statistics which estimate the properties of two or more pixel values occurring at specific locations relative to each other. To obtain GLCM features, we considered the segmented regions corresponding to the hippocampus and amygdala. Intensities within these regions were then equalized to 32 grey levels before computing the GLCM matrices.

Following this, a set of 11 textures features or descriptors was obtained for each GLCM by applying to these matrices the following quantifier functions: energy, entropy, correlation, contrast, homogeneity, variance, sum-mean, cluster shade, cluster tendency, maximum probability, and inverse variance. Institutional Login Shibboleth or OpenAthens For the academic login, please select your organization on the next page. Forgot Password?

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