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  Improving 3D convolutional neural network comprehensibility via interactive visualization of relevance maps: evaluation in Alzheimer’s disease

Dyrba, M., Hanzig, M., Altenstein, S., Bader, S., Ballarini, T., Brosseron, F., et al. (2021). Improving 3D convolutional neural network comprehensibility via interactive visualization of relevance maps: evaluation in Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, 13: 191, pp. 1-18. doi:10.1186/s13195-021-00924-2.

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Dyrba, M, Author
Hanzig, M, Author
Altenstein, S, Author
Bader, S, Author
Ballarini, T, Author
Brosseron, F, Author
Buerger, K, Author
Cantré, D, Author
Dobisch, L, Author
Düzel, E, Author
Ewers, M, Author
Fliessbach, K, Author
Glanz, W, Author
Haynes, JD, Author
Heneka, MT, Author
Janowitz, D, Author
Keles, DB, Author
Kilimann, I, Author
Laske, C, Author
Maier, F, Author
Metzger, CD, AuthorMunk, MH, Author           Perneczky, R, AuthorPeters, O, AuthorPreis, L, AuthorPriller, J, AuthorRauchmann, B, AuthorRoy, N, AuthorScheffler, K1, 2, Author           Schneider, A, AuthorSchott, BH, AuthorSpottke, A, AuthorSpruth, EJ, AuthorWeber, M-A, AuthorErtl-Wagner, B, AuthorWagner, M, AuthorWiltfang, J, AuthorJessen, F, AuthorTeipel, SJ, Author more..
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497794              
2Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society, ou_1497796              

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 Abstract: Background Although convolutional neural networks (CNNs) achieve high diagnostic accuracy for detecting Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, they are not yet applied in clinical routine. One important reason for this is a lack of model comprehensibility. Recently developed visualization methods for deriving CNN relevance maps may help to fill this gap as they allow the visualization of key input image features that drive the decision of the model. We investigated whether models with higher accuracy also rely more on discriminative brain regions predefined by prior knowledge. Methods We trained a CNN for the detection of AD in N = 663 T1-weighted MRI scans of patients with dementia and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and verified the accuracy of the models via cross-validation and in three independent samples including in total N = 1655 cases. We evaluated the association of relevance scores and hippocampus volume to validate the clinical utility of this approach. To improve model comprehensibility, we implemented an interactive visualization of 3D CNN relevance maps, thereby allowing intuitive model inspection. Results Across the three independent datasets, group separation showed high accuracy for AD dementia versus controls (AUC ≥ 0.91) and moderate accuracy for amnestic MCI versus controls (AUC ≈ 0.74). Relevance maps indicated that hippocampal atrophy was considered the most informative factor for AD detection, with additional contributions from atrophy in other cortical and subcortical regions. Relevance scores within the hippocampus were highly correlated with hippocampal volumes (Pearson’s r ≈ −0.86, p < 0.001). Conclusion The relevance maps highlighted atrophy in regions that we had hypothesized a priori. This strengthens the comprehensibility of the CNN models, which were trained in a purely data-driven manner based on the scans and diagnosis labels. The high hippocampus relevance scores as well as the high performance achieved in independent samples support the validity of the CNN models in the detection of AD-related MRI abnormalities. The presented data-driven and hypothesis-free CNN modeling approach might provide a useful tool to automatically derive discriminative features for complex diagnostic tasks where clear clinical criteria are still missing, for instance for the differential diagnosis between various types of dementia.

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 Dates: 2021-11
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
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 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1186/s13195-021-00924-2
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Title: Alzheimer's Research & Therapy
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: BioMed Central
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 13 Sequence Number: 191 Start / End Page: 1 - 18 Identifier: ISSN: 1758-9193
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1758-9193