A multi-model deep convolutional neural network for automatic hippocampus segmentation and classification in Alzheimer's disease

Manhua Liu, Fan Li, Hao Yan, Kundong Wang, Yixin Ma, Li Shen, Mingqing Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a progressive and irreversible brain degenerative disorder. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a clinical precursor of AD. Although some treatments can delay its progression, no effective cures are available for AD. Accurate early-stage diagnosis of AD is vital for the prevention and intervention of the disease progression. Hippocampus is one of the first affected brain regions in AD. To help AD diagnosis, the shape and volume of the hippocampus are often measured using structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, these features encode limited information and may suffer from segmentation errors. Additionally, the extraction of these features is independent of the classification model, which could result in sub-optimal performance. In this study, we propose a multi-model deep learning framework based on convolutional neural network (CNN) for joint automatic hippocampal segmentation and AD classification using structural MRI data. Firstly, a multi-task deep CNN model is constructed for jointly learning hippocampal segmentation and disease classification. Then, we construct a 3D Densely Connected Convolutional Networks (3D DenseNet) to learn features of the 3D patches extracted based on the hippocampal segmentation results for the classification task. Finally, the learned features from the multi-task CNN and DenseNet models are combined to classify disease status. Our method is evaluated on the baseline T1-weighted structural MRI data collected from 97 AD, 233 MCI, 119 Normal Control (NC) subjects in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database. The proposed method achieves a dice similarity coefficient of 87.0% for hippocampal segmentation. In addition, the proposed method achieves an accuracy of 88.9% and an AUC (area under the ROC curve) of 92.5% for classifying AD vs. NC subjects, and an accuracy of 76.2% and an AUC of 77.5% for classifying MCI vs. NC subjects. Our empirical study also demonstrates that the proposed multi-model method outperforms the single-model methods and several other competing methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116459
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Convolutional neural network
  • Hippocampus
  • Image classification
  • Magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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