Effective functional mapping of fMRI data with support-vector machines

Sangkyun Lee, Sebastian Halder, Andrea Kübler, Niels Birbaumer, Ranganatha Sitaram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is a growing interest in using support vector machines (SVMs) to classify and analyze fMRI signals, leading to a wide variety of applications ranging from brain state decoding to functional mapping of spatially and temporally distributed brain activations. Studies so far have generated functional maps using the vector of weight values generated by the SVM classification process, or alternatively by mapping the correlation coefficient between the fMRI signal at each voxel and the brain state determined by the SVM. However, these approaches are limited as they do not incorporate both the information involved in the SVM prediction of a brain state, namely, the BOLD activation at voxels and the degree of involvement of different voxels as indicated by their weight values. An important implication of the above point is that two different datasets of BOLD signals, presumably obtained from two different experiments, can potentially produce two identical hyperplanes irrespective of their differences in data distribution. Yet, the two sets of signal inputs could correspond to different functional maps. With this consideration, we propose a new method called Effect Mapping that is generated as a product of the weight vector and a newly computed vector of mutual information between BOLD activations at each voxel and the SVM output. By applying this method on neuroimaging data of overt motor execution in nine healthy volunteers, we demonstrate higher decoding accuracy indicating the greater efficacy of this method.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1502-1511
Number of pages10
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • FMRI
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Multivariate pattern analysis
  • Support vector machine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology


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