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This article is the author’s final published version in Frontiers in Neuroscience, Volume 16, January 2023, Article number 1099560.

The published version is available at Copyright © Vedaei et al.


Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a major public health concern that can result in a broad spectrum of short-term and long-term symptoms. Recently, machine learning (ML) algorithms have been used in neuroscience research for diagnostics and prognostic assessment of brain disorders. The present study aimed to develop an automatic classifier to distinguish patients suffering from chronic mTBI from healthy controls (HCs) utilizing multilevel metrics of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI). Sixty mTBI patients and forty HCs were enrolled and allocated to training and testing datasets with a ratio of 80:20. Several rs-fMRI metrics including fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (fALFF), regional homogeneity (ReHo), degree centrality (DC), voxel-mirrored homotopic connectivity (VMHC), functional connectivity strength (FCS), and seed-based FC were generated from two main analytical categories: local measures and network measures. Statistical two-sample t-test was employed comparing between mTBI and HCs groups. Then, for each rs-fMRI metric the features were selected extracting the mean values from the clusters showing significant differences. Finally, the support vector machine (SVM) models based on separate and multilevel metrics were built and the performance of the classifiers were assessed using five-fold cross-validation and via the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC). Feature importance was estimated using Shapley additive explanation (SHAP) values. Among local measures, the range of AUC was 86.67-100% and the optimal SVM model was obtained based on combined multilevel rs-fMRI metrics and DC as a separate model with AUC of 100%. Among network measures, the range of AUC was 80.42-93.33% and the optimal SVM model was obtained based on the combined multilevel seed-based FC metrics. The SHAP analysis revealed the DC value in the left postcentral and seed-based FC value between the motor ventral network and right superior temporal as the most important local and network features with the greatest contribution to the classification models. Our findings demonstrated that different rs-fMRI metrics can provide complementary information for classifying patients suffering from chronic mTBI. Moreover, we showed that ML approach is a promising tool for detecting patients with mTBI and might serve as potential imaging biomarker to identify patients at individual level.

Clinical trial registration: [], identifier [NCT03241732].

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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