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Structural imaging based on MRI is an integral component of the clinical assessment of patients with potential dementia. We here propose an individualized Gaussian process-based inference scheme for clinical decision support in healthy and pathological aging elderly subjects using MRI. The approach aims at quantitative and transparent support for clinicians who aim to detect structural abnormalities in patients at risk of Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia. Firstly, we introduce a generative model incorporating our knowledge about normative decline of local and global gray matter volume across the brain in elderly. By supposing smooth structural trajectories the models account for the general course of age-related structural decline as well as late-life accelerated loss. Considering healthy subjects' demography and global brain parameters as informative about normal brain aging variability affords individualized predictions in single cases. Using Gaussian process models as a normative reference, we predict new subjects' brain scans and quantify the local gray matter abnormalities in terms of Normative Probability Maps (NPM) and global z-scores. By integrating the observed expectation error and the predictive uncertainty, the local maps and global scores exploit the advantages of Bayesian inference for clinical decisions and provide a valuable extension of diagnostic information about pathological aging. We validate the approach in simulated data and real MRI data. We train the GP framework using 1238 healthy subjects with ages 18-94 years, and predict in 415 independent test subjects diagnosed as healthy controls, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.04.018

Type

Journal article

Journal

Neuroimage

Publication Date

15/08/2014

Volume

97

Pages

333 - 348

Keywords

Bayesian inference, Brain morphology, Gaussian processes, Lifespan brain aging, Single case analysis, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Algorithms, Anatomy, Cross-Sectional, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Simulation, Gray Matter, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Middle Aged, Normal Distribution, Young Adult