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In Frontiers in neuroscience ; h5-index 72.0

Since the ambiguous boundary of the lesion and inter-observer variability, white matter hyperintensity segmentation annotations are inherently noisy and uncertain. On the other hand, the high capacity of deep neural networks (DNN) enables them to overfit labels with noise and uncertainty, which may lead to biased models with weak generalization ability. This challenge has been addressed by leveraging multiple annotations per image. However, multiple annotations are often not available in a real-world scenario. To mitigate the issue, this paper proposes a supervision augmentation method (SA) and combines it with ensemble learning (SA-EN) to improve the generalization ability of the model. SA can obtain diverse supervision information by estimating the uncertainty of annotation in a real-world scenario that per image have only one ambiguous annotation. Then different base learners in EN are trained with diverse supervision information. The experimental results on two white matter hyperintensity segmentation datasets demonstrate that SA-EN gets the optimal accuracy compared with other state-of-the-art ensemble methods. SA-EN is more effective on small datasets, which is more suitable for medical image segmentation with few annotations. A quantitative study is presented to show the effect of ensemble size and the effectiveness of the ensemble model. Furthermore, SA-EN can capture two types of uncertainty, aleatoric uncertainty modeled in SA and epistemic uncertainty modeled in EN.

Guo Xutao, Ye Chenfei, Yang Yanwu, Zhang Li, Liang Li, Lu Shang, Lv Haiyan, Guo Chunjie, Ma Ting


deep learning, ensemble learning, supervision augmentation, uncertainty, white matter hyperintensity segmentation