Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Complex Systems and Data Science

First Advisor

Nicholas Allgaier

Second Advisor

Hugh Garavan


An immense collective effort has been put towards the development of methods forquantifying brain activity and structure. In parallel, a similar effort has focused on collecting experimental data, resulting in ever-growing data banks of complex human in vivo neuroimaging data. Machine learning, a broad set of powerful and effective tools for identifying multivariate relationships in high-dimensional problem spaces, has proven to be a promising approach toward better understanding the relationships between the brain and different phenotypes of interest. However, applied machine learning within a predictive framework for the study of neuroimaging data introduces several domain-specific problems and considerations, leaving the overarching question of how to best structure and run experiments ambiguous. In this work, I cover two explicit pieces of this larger question, the relationship between data representation and predictive performance and a case study on issues related to data collected from disparate sites and cohorts. I then present the Brain Predictability toolbox, a soft- ware package to explicitly codify and make more broadly accessible to researchers the recommended steps in performing a predictive experiment, everything from framing a question to reporting results. This unique perspective ultimately offers recommen- dations, explicit analytical strategies, and example applications for using machine learning to study the brain.



Number of Pages

213 p.