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Predictive modelling using neuroimaging data in the presence of confounds

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

When training predictive models from neuroimaging data, we typically have available non-imaging variables such as age and gender that affect the imaging data but which we may be uninterested in from a clinical perspective. Such variables are commonly referred to as ‘confounds’. In this work, we firstly give a working definition for confound in the context of training predictive models from samples of neuroimaging data. We define a confound as a variable which affects the imaging data and has an association with the target variable in the sample that differs from that in the population-of-interest, i.e., the population over which we intend to apply the estimated predictive model. The focus of this paper is the scenario in which the confound and target variable are independent in the population-of-interest, but the training sample is biased due to a sample association between the target and confound. We then discuss standard approaches for dealing with confounds in predictive modelling such as image adjustment and including the confound as a predictor, before deriving and motivating an Instance Weighting scheme that attempts to account for confounds by focusing model training so that it is optimal for the population-of-interest. We evaluate the standard approaches and Instance Weighting in two regression problems with neuroimaging data in which we train models in the presence of confounding, and predict samples that are representative of the population-of-interest. For comparison, these models are also evaluated when there is no confounding present. In the first experiment we predict the MMSE score using structural MRI from the ADNI database with gender as the confound, while in the second we predict age using structural MRI from the IXI database with acquisition site as the confound. Considered over both datasets we find that none of the methods for dealing with confounding gives more accurate predictions than a baseline model which ignores confounding, although including the confound as a predictor gives models that are less accurate than the baseline model. We do find, however, that different methods appear to focus their predictions on specific subsets of the population-of-interest, and that predictive accuracy is greater when there is no confounding present. We conclude with a discussion comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and the implications of our evaluation for building predictive models that can be used in clinical practice.

No MeSH data available.


Results using least squares training are shown in (a), while (b) shows results using Instance Weighted least squares. In both figures, the top row shows the MSE as the value of the noiseless target  changes, for each gender, when training using the unbiased sample  and a misspecified model. The bottom row in each figure shows the corresponding boxplot when using biased sample .
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f0070: Results using least squares training are shown in (a), while (b) shows results using Instance Weighted least squares. In both figures, the top row shows the MSE as the value of the noiseless target changes, for each gender, when training using the unbiased sample and a misspecified model. The bottom row in each figure shows the corresponding boxplot when using biased sample .

Mentions: In order to further investigate the differences between training with a biased and unbiased sample under model misspecification, Fig. 14(a)Fig. A.14


Predictive modelling using neuroimaging data in the presence of confounds
Results using least squares training are shown in (a), while (b) shows results using Instance Weighted least squares. In both figures, the top row shows the MSE as the value of the noiseless target  changes, for each gender, when training using the unbiased sample  and a misspecified model. The bottom row in each figure shows the corresponding boxplot when using biased sample .
© Copyright Policy - CC BY
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5391990&req=5

f0070: Results using least squares training are shown in (a), while (b) shows results using Instance Weighted least squares. In both figures, the top row shows the MSE as the value of the noiseless target changes, for each gender, when training using the unbiased sample and a misspecified model. The bottom row in each figure shows the corresponding boxplot when using biased sample .
Mentions: In order to further investigate the differences between training with a biased and unbiased sample under model misspecification, Fig. 14(a)Fig. A.14

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

When training predictive models from neuroimaging data, we typically have available non-imaging variables such as age and gender that affect the imaging data but which we may be uninterested in from a clinical perspective. Such variables are commonly referred to as ‘confounds’. In this work, we firstly give a working definition for confound in the context of training predictive models from samples of neuroimaging data. We define a confound as a variable which affects the imaging data and has an association with the target variable in the sample that differs from that in the population-of-interest, i.e., the population over which we intend to apply the estimated predictive model. The focus of this paper is the scenario in which the confound and target variable are independent in the population-of-interest, but the training sample is biased due to a sample association between the target and confound. We then discuss standard approaches for dealing with confounds in predictive modelling such as image adjustment and including the confound as a predictor, before deriving and motivating an Instance Weighting scheme that attempts to account for confounds by focusing model training so that it is optimal for the population-of-interest. We evaluate the standard approaches and Instance Weighting in two regression problems with neuroimaging data in which we train models in the presence of confounding, and predict samples that are representative of the population-of-interest. For comparison, these models are also evaluated when there is no confounding present. In the first experiment we predict the MMSE score using structural MRI from the ADNI database with gender as the confound, while in the second we predict age using structural MRI from the IXI database with acquisition site as the confound. Considered over both datasets we find that none of the methods for dealing with confounding gives more accurate predictions than a baseline model which ignores confounding, although including the confound as a predictor gives models that are less accurate than the baseline model. We do find, however, that different methods appear to focus their predictions on specific subsets of the population-of-interest, and that predictive accuracy is greater when there is no confounding present. We conclude with a discussion comparing the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and the implications of our evaluation for building predictive models that can be used in clinical practice.

No MeSH data available.