Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for 60% of dementia cases worldwide. Patients with the disease typically suffer from irreversible memory loss and progressive decline in multiple cognitive domains. Patterns of brain atrophy can be measured using MRI, which gives us an opportunity to facilitate AD detection.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for 60% of dementia cases worldwide; patients with the disease typically suffer from irreversible memory loss and progressive decline in multiple cognitive domains. With brain imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), microscopic brain changes are detectable even before abnormal memory loss is detected clinically. Patterns of brain atrophy can be measured using MRI, which gives us an opportunity to facilitate AD detection using image classification techniques. Even so, MRI scanning protocols and scanners differ across studies. The resulting differences in image contrast and signal to noise make it important to train and test classification models on multiple datasets, and to handle shifts in image characteristics across protocols (also known as domain transfer or domain adaptation). Here, we examined whether adversarial domain adaptation can boost the performance of a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) model designed to classify AD. To test this, we used an Attention-Guided Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to harmonize images from three publicly available brain MRI datasets - ADNI, AIBL and OASIS - adjusting for scanner-dependent effects. Our AG-GAN optimized a joint objective function that included attention loss, pixel loss, cycle-consistency loss and adversarial loss; the model was trained bidirectionally in an end-to-end fashion. For AD classification, we adapted the popular 2D AlexNet CNN to handle 3D images. Classification based on harmonized MR images significantly outperformed classification based on the three datasets in non-harmonized form, motivating further work on image harmonization using adversarial techniques.