Ensemble neural network approach detecting pain intensity from facial expressions

Ghazal Bargshady, Xujuan Zhou, Ravinesh C. Deo, Jeffrey Soar, Frank Whittaker, Hua Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on research to design an ensemble deep learning framework that integrates fine-tuned, three-stream hybrid deep neural network (i.e., Ensemble Deep Learning Model, EDLM), employing Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) to extract facial image features, detect and accurately classify the pain. To develop the approach, the VGGFace is fine-tuned and integrated with Principal Component Analysis and employed to extract features in images from the Multimodal Intensity Pain database at the early phase of the model fusion. Subsequently, a late fusion, three layers hybrid CNN and recurrent neural network algorithm is developed with their outputs merged to produce image-classified features to classify pain levels. The EDLM model is then benchmarked by means of a single-stream deep learning model including several competing models based on deep learning methods. The results obtained indicate that the proposed framework is able to outperform the competing methods, applied in a multi-level pain detection database to produce a feature classification accuracy that exceeds 89 %, with a receiver operating characteristic of 93 %. To evaluate the generalization of the proposed EDLM model, the UNBC-McMaster Shoulder Pain dataset is used as a test dataset for all of the modelling experiments, which reveals the efficacy of the proposed method for pain classification from facial images. The study concludes that the proposed EDLM model can accurately classify pain and generate multi-class pain levels for potential applications in the medical informatics area, and should therefore, be explored further in expert systems for detecting and classifying the pain intensity of patients, and automatically evaluating the patients’ pain level accurately.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101954
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Ensemble neural network approach detecting pain intensity from facial expressions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this