Designing individual-specific and trial-specific models to accurately predict the intensity of nociceptive pain from single-trial fMRI responses


Using machine learning to predict the intensity of pain from fMRI has attracted rapidly increasing interests. However, due to remarkable inter- and intra-individual variabilities in pain responses, the performance of existing fMRI-based pain prediction models is far from satisfactory. The present study proposed a new approach which can design a prediction model specific to each individual or each experimental trial so that the specific model can achieve more accurate prediction of the intensity of nociceptive pain from single-trial fMRI responses. More precisely, the new approach uses a supervised k-means method on nociceptive-evoked fMRI responses to cluster individuals or trials into a set of subgroups, each of which has similar and consistent fMRI activation patterns. Then, for a new test individual/trial, the proposed approach chooses one subgroup of individuals/trials, which has the closest fMRI patterns to the test individual/trial, as training samples to train an individual-specific or a trial-specific pain prediction model. The new approach was tested on a nociceptive-evoked fMRI dataset and achieved significantly higher prediction accuracy than conventional non-specific models, which used all available training samples to train a model. The generalizability of the proposed approach is further validated by training specific models on one dataset and testing these models on an independent new dataset. This proposed individual-specific and trial-specific pain prediction approach has the potential to be used for the development of individualized and precise pain assessment tools in clinical practice.

Gan Huang
Gan Huang

My research interests include Neural Modulation, Brain Computer Interface and Neural Prosthetics.