A small number of abnormal brain connections predicts adult autism spectrum disorder

Noriaki Yahata, Jun Morimoto, Ryuichiro Hashimoto, Giuseppe Lisi, Kazuhisa Shibata, Yuki Kawakubo, Hitoshi Kuwabara, Miho Kuroda, Takashi Yamada, Fukuda Megumi, Hiroshi Imamizu, Jose Nanez, Hidehiko Takahashi, Yasumasa Okamoto, Kiyoto Kasai, Nobumasa Kato, Yuka Sasaki, Takeo Watanabe, Mitsuo Kawato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


Although autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a serious lifelong condition, its underlying neural mechanism remains unclear. Recently, neuroimaging-based classifiers for ASD and typically developed (TD) individuals were developed to identify the abnormality of functional connections (FCs). Due to over-fitting and interferential effects of varying measurement conditions and demographic distributions, no classifiers have been strictly validated for independent cohorts. Here we overcome these difficulties by developing a novel machine-learning algorithm that identifies a small number of FCs that separates ASD versus TD. The classifier achieves high accuracy for a Japanese discovery cohort and demonstrates a remarkable degree of generalization for two independent validation cohorts in the USA and Japan. The developed ASD classifier does not distinguish individuals with major depressive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder from their controls but moderately distinguishes patients with schizophrenia from their controls. The results leave open the viable possibility of exploring neuroimaging-based dimensions quantifying the multiple-disorder spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11254
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Apr 14 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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