Deep sparse multi-task learning for feature selection in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis

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117 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, neuroimaging-based Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) diagnosis has attracted researchers in the field, due to the increasing prevalence of the diseases. Unfortunately, the unfavorable high-dimensional nature of neuroimaging data, but a limited small number of samples available, makes it challenging to build a robust computer-aided diagnosis system. Machine learning techniques have been considered as a useful tool in this respect and, among various methods, sparse regression has shown its validity in the literature. However, to our best knowledge, the existing sparse regression methods mostly try to select features based on the optimal regression coefficients in one step. We argue that since the training feature vectors are composed of both informative and uninformative or less informative features, the resulting optimal regression coefficients are inevidently affected by the uninformative or less informative features. To this end, we first propose a novel deep architecture to recursively discard uninformative features by performing sparse multi-task learning in a hierarchical fashion. We further hypothesize that the optimal regression coefficients reflect the relative importance of features in representing the target response variables. In this regard, we use the optimal regression coefficients learned in one hierarchy as feature weighting factors in the following hierarchy, and formulate a weighted sparse multi-task learning method. Lastly, we also take into account the distributional characteristics of samples per class and use clustering-induced subclass label vectors as target response values in our sparse regression model. In our experiments on the ADNI cohort, we performed both binary and multi-class classification tasks in AD/MCI diagnosis and showed the superiority of the proposed method by comparing with the state-of-the-art methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2569-2587
Number of pages19
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
  • Deep architecture
  • Feature selection
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Multi-task learning
  • Positron emission topography (PET)
  • Sparse least squared regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • General Neuroscience
  • Histology


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