Machine learning (ML) techniques are expected to tackle the problem of the high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) we are facing worldwide. However, few studies of novelty detection (ND), a typical ML technique for safety-critical systems especially in healthcare, were engaged for identifying the risk of developing cognitive impairment from healthy controls (HC) population.
Materials and Methods:
Two independent datasets were used for this study, including the Australian Imaging Biomarkers and Lifestyle Study of Ageing (AIBL) and the Fujian Medical University Union Hospital (FMUUH), China datasets. Multiple feature selection methods were applied to identify the most relevant features for predicting the severity of AD. Four easily interpretable ND algorithms, including k nearest neighbor, Mixture of Gaussian (MoG), KMEANS, and support vector data description were used to construct predictive models. The models were visualized by drawing their decision boundaries tightly surrounding the HC data. A distance to boundary (DtB) strategy was proposed to differentiate individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and AD from HC.
The best overall MCI&AD detection performance in both AIBL and FMUUH was obtained on the cognitive and functional assessments (CFA) modality only using MoG-based ND with AUC of 0.8757 and 0.9443, respectively. The highest sensitivity of MCI was presented by using a combination of CFA and brain imaging modality. The DTB value reflects the risk of developing cognitive impairment for HC and the dementia severity of MCI/AD.
Our findings suggest that applying some non-invasive and cost-effective features can significantly detect cognitive decline in an early stage. The visualized decision boundary and the proposed DtB strategy illustrated the severity of cognitive decline of potential MCI&AD patients in an early stage. The results would help inform future guidelines for developing a clinical decision-making support system aiming at an early diagnosis and prognosis of MCI&AD.