Automated computer classification (ACC) techniques are needed to facilitate physician's diagnosis of complex diseases in individual patients. We provide an example of ACC using computational techniques within the context of cross-sectional analysis of magnetic resonance images (MRI) in neurodegenerative diseases, namely Alzheimer's dementia (AD). In this paper, the accuracy of our ACC methodology is assessed when presented with real life, imperfect data, i.e., cohorts of MRI with varying acquisition parameters and imaging quality. The comparative methodology uses the Jacobian determinants derived from dense deformation fields and scaled grey-level intensity from a selected volume of interest centered on the medial temporal lobe. The ACC performance is assessed in a series of leave-one-out experiments aimed at separating 75 probable AD and 75 age-matched normal controls. The resulting accuracy is 92% using a support vector machine classifier based on least squares optimization. Finally, it is shown in the Appendix that determinants and scaled grey-level intensity are appreciably more robust to varying parameters in validation studies using simulated data, when compared to raw intensities or grey/white matter volumes. The ability of cross-sectional MRI at detecting probable AD with high accuracy could have profound implications in the management of suspected AD candidates.