Accumulating evidence shows that brain functional deficits may be impacted by damage to remote brain regions. Recent advances in neuroimaging suggest that stroke impairment can be better predicted based on disruption to brain networks rather than from lesion locations or volumes only. Our aim was to explore the feasibility of predicting post-stroke somatosensory function from brain functional connectivity through the application of machine learning techniques. Somatosensory impairment was measured using the Tactile Discrimination Test. Functional connectivity was employed to model the global brain function. Behavioral measures and MRI were collected at the same timepoint. Two machine learning models (linear regression and support vector regression) were chosen to predict somatosensory impairment from disrupted networks. Along with two feature pools (i.e., low-order and high-order functional connectivity, or low-order functional connectivity only) engineered, four predictive models were built and evaluated in the present study. Forty-three chronic stroke survivors participated this study. Results showed that the regression model employing both low-order and high-order functional connectivity can predict outcomes based on correlation coefficient of r = 0.54 (p = 0.0002). A machine learning predictive approach, involving high-and low-order modelling, is feasible for the prediction of residual somatosensory function in stroke patients using functional brain networks.
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