Predicting 'Brainage' in late childhood to adolescence (6-17yrs) using structural MRI, morphometric similarity, and machine learning

Daniel Griffiths-King, Amanda Wood, Jan Novak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brain development is regularly studied using structural MRI. Recently, studies have used a combination of statistical learning and large-scale imaging databases of healthy children to predict an individual’s age from structural MRI. This data-driven, predicted ‘Brainage’ typically differs from the subjects chronological age, with this difference a potential measure of individual difference. Few studies have leveraged higher-order or connectomic representations of structural MRI data for this Brainage approach. We leveraged morphometric similarity as a network-level approach to structural MRI to generate predictive models of age. We benchmarked these novel Brainage approaches using morphometric similarity against more typical, single feature (i.e., cortical thickness) approaches. We showed that these novel methods did not outperform cortical thickness or cortical volume measures. All models were significantly biased by age, but robust to motion confounds. The main results show that, whilst morphometric similarity mapping may be a novel way to leverage additional information from a T1-weighted structural MRI beyond individual features, in the context of a Brainage framework, morphometric similarity does not provide more accurate predictions of age. Morphometric similarity as a network-level approach to structural MRI may be poorly positioned to study individual differences in brain development in healthy participants in this way.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15591
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

Funding: Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange I data were made available by Adriana Di Martino supported by (NIMH K23MH087770) and the Leon Levy Foundation. Primary support for the work by Michael P. Milham and the INDI team in relation to this data was provided by gifts from Joseph P. Healy and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to the Child Mind Institute, as well as by a NIMH award to MPM (NIMH R03MH096321). For this work, DGK was supported by a grant from Aston College of Health and Life Sciences to JN and DGK and a grant from Birmingham Children’s Hospital Research Foundation (BCHRF) to AW.


  • Adolescent
  • Benchmarking
  • Child
  • Databases, Factual
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging


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