Identification of progressive mild cognitive impairment patients using incomplete longitudinal MRI scans

Kim Han Thung, Chong Yaw Wee, Pew Thian Yap, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Distinguishing progressive mild cognitive impairment (pMCI) from stable mild cognitive impairment (sMCI) is critical for identification of patients who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), so that early treatment can be administered. In this paper, we propose a pMCI/sMCI classification framework that harnesses information available in longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, which could be incomplete, to improve diagnostic accuracy. Volumetric features were first extracted from the baseline MRI scan and subsequent scans acquired after 6, 12, and 18 months. Dynamic features were then obtained using the 18th month scan as the reference and computing the ratios of feature differences for the earlier scans. Features that are linearly or non-linearly correlated with diagnostic labels are then selected using two elastic net sparse learning algorithms. Missing feature values due to the incomplete longitudinal data are imputed using a low-rank matrix completion method. Finally, based on the completed feature matrix, we build a multi-kernel support vector machine (mkSVM) to predict the diagnostic label of samples with unknown diagnostic statuses. Our evaluation indicates that a diagnosis accuracy as high as 78.2 % can be achieved when information from the longitudinal scans is used—6.6 % higher than the case using only the reference time point image. In other words, information provided by the longitudinal history of the disease improves diagnosis accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3979-3995
Number of pages17
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

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


  • Elastic net
  • Longitudinal MRI
  • Low-rank matrix completion
  • Missing data
  • Multi-kernel learning
  • Progressive mild cognitive impairment (pMCI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • General Neuroscience
  • Histology


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