Predicting Intelligence from fMRI Data of the Human Brain in a Few Minutes of Scan Time

Scatter plots showing predictions of the G-factor.  Each dot represents one of the 390 test subjects.  Note that the results from the two tasks are markedly better than that of the resting state.  The average of the two tasks yields the best result.

A number of recent studies have investigated machine learning techniques for predicting individual behaviour from fMRI. Even though encouraging results have been obtained, excessive scan times - especially in resting state fMRI - are a limiting factor.
In this study, we propose a new machine learning algorithm for predicting individual behaviour of healthy human subjects using both resting state (rsfMRI) as well as task-based fMRI (tfMRI). It achieves dimensionality reduction via ensemble learning and partial least squares regression rather than via brain parcellations or ICA decompositions. In addition, it introduces Ricci-Forman curvature as a novel type of edge weight.
As a proof of concept, we focus on predicting fluid, crystallized and general intelligence scores. In a cohort of 390 unrelated test subjects of the Human Connectome Project, we found correlations between the observed and the predicted general intelligence of more than 50 percent in tfMRI, and of around 59 percent when results from two tasks are combined. We compare these results against a benchmark of existing methods that produced correlations below 50 percent in both rsfMRI and tfMRI. We conclude that with novel machine learning techniques applied to tfMRI it is possible to obtain significantly better prediction accuracies at a fraction of the scan time.

Lohmann et al:
Predicting intelligence from fMRI data of the human brain in a few minutes of scan time.
bioRxiv (2021).
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