A comparative study of machine learning methods for predicting the evolution of brain connectivity from a baseline timepoint

Şeymanur Aktı, Doğay Kamar, Özgür Anıl Özlü, Ihsan Soydemir, Muhammet Akcan, Abdullah Kul, Islem Rekik (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Predicting the evolution of the brain network, also called connectome, by foreseeing changes in the connectivity weights linking pairs of anatomical regions makes it possible to spot connectivity-related neurological disorders in earlier stages and detect the development of potential connectomic anomalies. Remarkably, such a challenging prediction problem remains least explored in the predictive connectomics literature. It is a known fact that machine learning (ML) methods have proven their predictive abilities in a wide variety of computer vision problems. However, ML techniques specifically tailored for the prediction of brain connectivity evolution trajectory from a single timepoint are almost absent.

New Method: To fill this gap, we organized a Kaggle competition where 20 competing teams designed advanced machine learning pipelines for predicting the brain connectivity evolution from a single timepoint. The teams developed their ML pipelines with combination of data pre-processing, dimensionality reduction and learning methods. Each ML framework inputs a baseline brain connectivity matrix observed at baseline timepoint t0 and outputs the brain connectivity map at a follow-up timepoint t1. The longitudinal OASIS-2 dataset was used for model training and evaluation. Both random data split and 5-fold cross-validation strategies were used for ranking and evaluating the generalizability and scalability of each competing ML pipeline.

Results: Utilizing an inclusive approach, we ranked the methods based on two complementary evaluation metrics (mean absolute error (MAE) and Pearson Correlation Coefficient (PCC)) and their performances using different training and testing data perturbation strategies (single random split and cross-validation). The final rank was calculated using the rank product for each competing team across all evaluation measures and validation strategies. Furthermore, we added statistical significance values to each proposed pipeline.

Conclusion: In support of open science, the developed 20 ML pipelines along with the connectomic dataset are made available on GitHub (https://github.com/basiralab/Kaggle-BrainNetPrediction-Toolbox). The outcomes of this competition are anticipated to lead the further development of predictive models that can foresee the evolution of the brain connectivity over time, as well as other types of networks (e.g., genetic networks).

Original languageEnglish
Article number109475
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Brain connectivity evolution prediction
  • Kaggle competition
  • Machine learning
  • Python toolbox

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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