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In Neuroinformatics

Brain atrophy quantification plays a fundamental role in neuroinformatics since it permits studying brain development and neurological disorders. However, the lack of a ground truth prevents testing the accuracy of longitudinal atrophy quantification methods. We propose a deep learning framework to generate longitudinal datasets by deforming T1-w brain magnetic resonance imaging scans as requested through segmentation maps. Our proposal incorporates a cascaded multi-path U-Net optimised with a multi-objective loss which allows its paths to generate different brain regions accurately. We provided our model with baseline scans and real follow-up segmentation maps from two longitudinal datasets, ADNI and OASIS, and observed that our framework could produce synthetic follow-up scans that matched the real ones (Total scans= 584; Median absolute error: 0.03 ± 0.02; Structural similarity index: 0.98 ± 0.02; Dice similarity coefficient: 0.95 ± 0.02; Percentage of brain volume change: 0.24 ± 0.16; Jacobian integration: 1.13 ± 0.05). Compared to two relevant works generating brain lesions using U-Nets and conditional generative adversarial networks (CGAN), our proposal outperformed them significantly in most cases (p < 0.01), except in the delineation of brain edges where the CGAN took the lead (Jacobian integration: Ours - 1.13 ± 0.05 vs CGAN - 1.00 ± 0.02; p < 0.01). We examined whether changes induced with our framework were detected by FAST, SPM, SIENA, SIENAX, and the Jacobian integration method. We observed that induced and detected changes were highly correlated (Adj. R2 > 0.86). Our preliminary results on harmonised datasets showed the potential of our framework to be applied to various data collections without further adjustment.

Bernal Jose, Valverde Sergi, Kushibar Kaisar, Cabezas Mariano, Oliver Arnau, Lladó Xavier


Brain MRI, Cerebral atrophy, Convolutional neural networks, Image generation, Longitudinal atrophy synthesis