International Journal of Yoga
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Table of Contents   
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 96-105
Classification of rajayoga meditators based on the duration of practice using graph theoretical measures of functional connectivity from task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging

1 Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, BNM Institute of Technology, Bangalore and Affiliated to Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belagavi, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Ashwini S Savanth
Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, BNM Institute of Technology, Banashankari 2nd Stage, Bengaluru - 560 070, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_17_22

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Context: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies on mental training techniques such as meditation have reported benefits like increased attention and concentration, better emotional regulation, as well as reduced stress and anxiety. Although several studies have examined functional activation and connectivity in long-term as well as short-term meditators from different meditation traditions, it is unclear if long-term meditation practice brings about distinct changes in network properties of brain functional connectivity that persist during task performance. Indeed, task-based functional connectivity studies of meditators are rare. Aims: This study aimed to differentiate between long-term and short-term Rajayoga meditators based on functional connectivity between regions of interest in the brain. Task-based fMRI was captured as the meditators performed an engaging task. The graph theoretical-based functional connectivity measures of task-based fMRI were calculated using CONN toolbox and were used as features to classify the two groups using Machine Learning models. Subjects and Methods: In this study, we recruited two age and sex-matched groups of Rajayoga meditators from the Brahma Kumaris tradition that differed in the duration of their meditation experience: Long-term practitioners (n = 12, mean 13,596 h) and short-term practitioners (n = 10, mean 1095 h). fMRI data were acquired as they performed an engaging task and functional connectivity metrics were calculated from this data. These metrics were used as features in training machine learning algorithms. Specifically, we used adjacency matrices generated from graph measures, global efficiency, and local efficiency, as features. We computed functional connectivity with 132 ROIs as well as 32 network ROIs. Statistical Analysis Used: Five machine learning models, such as logistic regression, SVM, decision tree, random forest, and gradient boosted tree, were trained to classify the two groups. Accuracy, precision, sensitivity, selectivity, area under the curve receiver operating characteristics curve were used as performance measures. Results: The graph measures were effective features, and tree-based algorithms such as decision tree, random forest, and gradient boosted tree yielded the best performance (test accuracy >84% with 132 ROIs) in classifying the two groups of meditators. Conclusions: Our results support the hypothesis that long-term meditative practices alter brain functional connectivity networks even in nonmeditative contexts. Further, the use of adjacency matrices from graph theoretical measures of high-dimensional fMRI data yields a promising feature set for machine learning classifiers.

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