Relevant feature set estimation with a knock-out strategy and random forests

Melanie GanzAlzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative


Group analysis of neuroimaging data is a vital tool for identifying anatomical and functional variations related to diseases as well as normal biological processes. The analyses are often performed on a large number of highly correlated measurements using a relatively smaller number of samples. Despite the correlation structure, the most widely used approach is to analyze the data using univariate methods followed by post-hoc corrections that try to account for the data's multivariate nature. Although widely used, this approach may fail to recover from the adverse effects of the initial analysis when local effects are not strong. Multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) is a powerful alternative to the univariate approach for identifying relevant variations. Jointly analyzing all the measures, MVPA techniques can detect global effects even when individual local effects are too weak to detect with univariate analysis. Current approaches are successful in identifying variations that yield highly predictive and compact models. However, they suffer from lessened sensitivity and instabilities in identification of relevant variations. Furthermore, current methods' user-defined parameters are often unintuitive and difficult to determine. ...Continue Reading


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