Medical images can be used to predict a clinical score coding for the severity of a disease, a pain level or the complexity of a cognitive task. In all these cases, the predicted variable has a natural order. While a standard classifier discards this information, we would like to take it into account in order to improve prediction performance. A standard linear regression does model such information, however the linearity assumption is likely not be satisfied when predicting from pixel intensities in an image. In this work we address these modeling challenges with a supervised learning procedure where the model aims to order or rank images. We use a linear model for its robustness in high dimension and its possible interpretation. We show on simulations and two fMRI datasets that this approach is able to predict the correct ordering on pairs of images, yielding higher prediction accuracy than standard regression and multi-class classification techniques.
Figure 8. Based on a ranking procedure, the information present in different regions of interest of the brain volume can be used to predict a cognitive feature, in that case the level of complexity of sentences heared by the subject.