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Ashkan Ebadi, Josué L Dalboni da Rocha, Dushyanth B Nagaraju, Fernanda Tovar-Moll, Ivanei Bramati, Gabriel Coutinho, Ranganatha Sitaram, Parisa Rashidi
Frontiers in neuroscience, 11, 56
Publication year: 2017

The human brain is a complex network of interacting regions. The gray matter regions of brain are interconnected by white matter tracts, together forming one integrative complex network. In this article, we report our investigation about the potential of applying brain connectivity patterns as an aid in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). We performed pattern analysis of graph theoretical measures derived from Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) data representing structural brain networks of 45 subjects, consisting of 15 patients of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), 15 patients of MCI, and 15 healthy subjects (CT). We considered pair-wise class combinations of subjects, defining three separate classification tasks, i.e., AD-CT, AD-MCI, and CT-MCI, and used an ensemble classification module to perform the classification tasks. Our ensemble framework with feature selection shows a promising performance with classification accuracy of 83.3% for AD vs. MCI, 80% for AD vs. CT, and 70% for MCI vs. CT. Moreover, our findings suggest that AD can be related to graph measures abnormalities at Brodmann areas in the sensorimotor cortex and piriform cortex. In this way, node redundancy coefficient and load centrality in the primary motor cortex were recognized as good indicators of AD in contrast to MCI. In general, load centrality, betweenness centrality, and closeness centrality were found to be the most relevant network measures, as they were the top identified features at different nodes. The present study can be regarded as a “proof of concept” about a procedure for the classification of MRI markers between AD dementia, MCI, and normal old individuals, due to the small and not well-defined groups of AD and MCI patients. Future studies with larger samples of subjects and more sophisticated patient exclusion criteria are necessary toward the development of a more precise technique for clinical diagnosis.

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