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posted on 02.07.2018 by Obada Al Zoubi, Chung Ki Wong, Rayus T. Kuplicki, Hung-wen Yeh, Ahmad Mayeli, Hazem Refai, Martin Paulus, Jerzy Bodurka

Objective: The brain age gap estimate (BrainAGE) is the difference between the estimated age and the individual chronological age. BrainAGE was studied primarily using MRI techniques. EEG signals in combination with machine learning (ML) approaches were not commonly used for the human age prediction, and BrainAGE. We investigated whether age-related changes are affecting brain EEG signals, and whether we can predict the chronological age and obtain BrainAGE estimates using a rigorous ML framework with a novel and extensive EEG features extraction.

Methods: EEG data were obtained from 468 healthy, mood/anxiety, eating and substance use disorder participants (297 females) from the Tulsa-1000, a naturalistic longitudinal study based on Research Domain Criteria framework. Five sets of preprocessed EEG features across channels and frequency bands were used with different ML methods to predict age. Using a nested-cross-validation (NCV) approach and stack-ensemble learning from EEG features, the predicted age was estimated. The important features and their spatial distributions were deduced.

Results: The stack-ensemble age prediction model achieved R2 = 0.37 (0.06), Mean Absolute Error (MAE) = 6.87(0.69) and RMSE = 8.46(0.59) in years. The age and predicted age correlation was r = 0.6. The feature importance revealed that age predictors are spread out across different feature types. The NCV approach produced a reliable age estimation, with features consistent behavior across different folds.

Conclusion: Our rigorous ML framework and extensive EEG signal features allow a reliable estimation of chronological age, and BrainAGE. This general framework can be extended to test EEG association with and to predict/study other physiological relevant responses.

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