Comparison of single and multitask learning for predicting cognitive decline based on MRI data

The Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale (ADAS-Cog) is a neuropsychological tool that has been designed to assess the severity of cognitive symptoms of dementia. Personalized prediction of the changes in ADAS-Cog scores could help in timing therapeutic interventions in dementia and at-risk populations. In the present work, we compared single and multitask learning approaches to predict the changes in ADAS-Cog scores based on T1-weighted anatomical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In contrast to most machine learning-based prediction methods ADAS-Cog changes, we stratified the subjects based on their baseline diagnoses and evaluated the prediction performances in each group. Our experiments indicated a positive relationship between the predicted and observed ADAS-Cog score changes in each diagnostic group, suggesting that T1-weighted MRI has a predictive value for evaluating cognitive decline in the entire AD continuum. We further studied whether correction of the differences in the magnetic field strength of MRI would improve the ADAS-Cog score prediction. The partial least square-based domain adaptation slightly improved the prediction performance, but the improvement was marginal. In summary, this study demonstrated that ADAS-Cog change could be, to some extent, predicted based on anatomical MRI. Based on this study, the recommended method for learning the predictive models is a single-task regularized linear regression due to its simplicity and good performance. It appears important to combine the training data across all subject groups for the most effective predictive models.

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