Multi-Kernel Learning with Dartel Improves Combined MRI-PET Classification of Alzheimer’s Disease in AIBL Data: Group and Individual Analyses

Vahab Youssofzadeh*, Bernadette McGuinness, Liam P. Maguire, Kongfatt Wong-Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) are neuroimaging modalities typically used for evaluating brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Due to their complementary nature, their combination can provide more accurate AD diagnosis or prognosis. In this work, we apply a multi-modal imaging machine-learning framework to enhance AD classification and prediction of diagnosis of subject-matched gray matter MRI and Pittsburgh compound B (PiB)-PET data related to 58 AD, 108 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 120 healthy elderly (HE) subjects from the Australian imaging, biomarkers and lifestyle (AIBL) dataset. Specifically, we combined a Dartel algorithm to enhance anatomical registration with multi-kernel learning (MKL) technique, yielding an average of >95% accuracy for three binary classification problems: AD-vs.-HE, MCI-vs.-HE and AD-vs.-MCI, a considerable improvement from individual modality approach. Consistent with t-contrasts, the MKL weight maps revealed known brain regions associated with AD, i.e., (para)hippocampus, posterior cingulate cortex and bilateral temporal gyrus. Importantly, MKL regression analysis provided excellent predictions of diagnosis of individuals by r2 = 0.86. In addition, we found significant correlations between the MKL classification and delayed memory recall scores with r2 = 0.62 (p < 0.01). Interestingly, outliers in the regression model for diagnosis were mainly converter samples with a higher likelihood of converting to the inclined diagnostic category. Overall, our work demonstrates the successful application of MKL with Dartel on combined neuromarkers from different neuroimaging modalities in the AIBL data. This lends further support in favor of machine learning approach in improving the diagnosis and risk prediction of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number380
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed under the Northern Ireland International Health Analytics Centre (IHAC) collaborative network project funded by Invest NI through Northern Ireland Science Park (Catalyst Inc., New York, NY, USA). KFW-L and LPM were additionally supported by the Northern Ireland Functional Brain Mapping Facility (1303/101154803) funded by Invest NI and the University of Ulster, and KFW-L by COST Action Open Multiscale Systems Medicine (OpenMultiMed) supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology). The authors would wish to thank Jose Sanchez-Bornot, Xuemei Ding, and the IHAC collaborative network especially Le Roy Dowey, for helpful discussions, and Stephen Lusty and Peter Devine for administrative support. The data used in the preparation of this article was obtained from the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle flagship study of ageing (AIBL) funded by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) which was made available at the ADNI database ( The AIBL researchers contributed data but did not participate in analysis or writing of this report. AIBL researchers are listed at

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Youssofzadeh, McGuinness, Maguire and Wong-Lin.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Australian imaging
  • Biomarkers
  • Classification
  • Lifestyle AIBL
  • Machine learning
  • Multi-kernel learning
  • Prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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