Deep Learning Identifies Neuroimaging Signatures of Alzheimer's Disease Using Structural and Synthesized Functional MRI Data

Current neuroimaging techniques provide paths to investigate the structure and function of the brain in vivo and have made great advances in understanding Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the group-level analyses prevalently used for investigation and understanding of the disease are not applicable for diagnosis of individuals... More recently, deep learning, which can efficiently analyze large-scale complex patterns in 3D brain images, has helped pave the way for computer-aided individual diagnosis by providing accurate and automated disease classification. Great progress has been made in classifying AD with deep learning models developed upon increasingly available structural MRI data. The lack of scale-matched functional neuroimaging data prevents such models from being further improved by observing functional changes in pathophysiology. Here we propose a potential solution by first learning a structural-to-functional transformation in brain MRI, and further synthesizing spatially matched functional images from large-scale structural scans. We evaluated our approach by building computational models to discriminate patients with AD from healthy normal subjects and demonstrated a performance boost after combining the structural and synthesized functional brain images into the same model. Furthermore, our regional analyses identified the temporal lobe to be the most predictive structural-region and the parieto-occipital lobe to be the most predictive functional-region of our model, which are both in concordance with previous group-level neuroimaging findings. Together, we demonstrate the potential of deep learning with large-scale structural and synthesized functional MRI to impact AD classification and to identify AD's neuroimaging signatures. read more

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