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Neonatal morphometric similarity mapping for predicting brain age and characterizing neuroanatomic variation associated with preterm birth

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Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Early online date23 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jan 2020


Multi-contrast MRI captures information about brain macro- and micro-structure which can be combined in an integrated model to obtain a detailed “fingerprint” of the anatomical properties of an individual’s brain. Inter-regional similarities between features derived from structural and diffusion MRI, including regional volumes, diffusion tensor metrics, neurite orientation dispersion and density imaging measures, can be modelled as morphometric similarity networks (MSNs). Here, individual MSNs were derived from 105 neonates (59 preterm and 46 term) who were scanned between 38 and 45 weeks postmenstrual age (PMA). Inter-regional similarities were used as predictors in a regression model of age at the time of scanning and in a classification model to discriminate between preterm and term infant brains. When tested on unseen data, the regression model predicted PMA at scan with a mean absolute error of 0.70  ±  0.56 weeks, and the classification model achieved 92% accuracy. We conclude that MSNs predict chronological brain age accurately; and they provide a data-driven approach to identify networks that characterise typical maturation and those that contribute most to neuroanatomic variation associated with preterm birth.

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