Classification of fMRI independent components using IC-fingerprints and support vector machine classifiers

F. de Martino, F. Gentile, F. Esposito, M. Balsi, F. Di Salle, R.W. Goebel, E. Formisano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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We present a general method for the classification of independent components (ICs) extracted from functional MRI (fMRI) data sets. The method consists of two steps. In the first step, each FMRI-IC is associated with an IC-fingerprint, i.e., a representation of the component in a multidimensional space of parameters. These parameters are post hoc estimates of global properties of the ICs and are largely independent of a specific experimental design and stimulus timing. In the second step a machine learning algorithm automatically separates the IC-fingerprints into six general classes after preliminary training performed on a small subset of expert-labeled components. We illustrate this approach in a multisubject fMRI study employing visual structure-from-motion stimuli encoding faces and control random shapes. We show that: (1) IC-fingerprints are a valuable tool for the inspection, characterization and selection of fMRI-ICs and (2) automatic classifications of FMRI-ICs in new subjects present a high correspondence with those obtained by expert visual inspection of the components. Importantly, our classification procedure highlights several neuro-physiologically interesting processes. The most intriguing of which is reflected, with high intra- and inter-subject reproducibility, in one IC exhibiting a transiently task-related activation in the 'face' region of the primary sensorimotor cortex. This suggests that in addition to or as part of the mirror system, somatotopic regions of the sensorimotor cortex are involved in disambiguating the perception of a moving body part. Finally, we show that the same classification algorithm can be successfully applied, without re-training, to fMRI collected using acquisition parameters, stimulation modality and timing considerably different from those used for training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-194
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


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