A comparison of machine learning classifiers for pediatric epilepsy using resting-state functional MRI latency data

Ryan D. Nguyen, Matthew D. Smyth, Liang Zhu, Ludovic P. Pao, Shannon K. Swisher, Emmett H. Kennady, Anish Mitra, Rajan P. Patel, Jeremy E. Lankford, Gretchen Von Allmen, Michael W. Watkins, Michael E. Funke, Manish N. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Epilepsy affects 1 in 150 children under the age of 10 and is the most common chronic pediatric neurological condition; poor seizure control can irreversibly disrupt normal brain development. The present study compared the ability of different machine learning algorithms trained with resting-state functional MRI (rfMRI) latency data to detect epilepsy. Preoperative rfMRI and anatomical MRI scans were obtained for 63 patients with epilepsy and 259 healthy controls. The normal distribution of latency z-scores from the epilepsy and healthy control cohorts were analyzed for overlap in 36 seed regions. In these seed regions, overlap between the study cohorts ranged from 0.44-0.58. Machine learning features were extracted from latency z-score maps using principal component analysis. Extreme Gradient Boosting (XGBoost), Support Vector Machines (SVM), and Random Forest algorithms were trained with these features. Area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC), accuracy, sensitivity, specificity and F1-scores were used to evaluate model performance. The XGBoost model outperformed all other models with a test AUC of 0.79, accuracy of 74%, specificity of 73%, and a sensitivity of 77%. The Random Forest model performed comparably to XGBoost across multiple metrics, but it had a test sensitivity of 31%. The SVM model did not perform >70% in any of the test metrics. The XGBoost model had the highest sensitivity and accuracy for the detection of epilepsy. Development of machine learning algorithms trained with rfMRI latency data could provide an adjunctive method for the diagnosis and evaluation of epilepsy with the goal of enabling timely and appropriate care for patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalBiomedical Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Extreme gradient boosting
  • Machine learning
  • Pediatric epilepsy
  • Resting-state functional MRI
  • Temporal latency


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