Individual prediction of cognitive decline in mild cognitive impairment using support vector machine-based analysis of diffusion tensor imaging data

J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;22(1):315-27. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2010-100840.


Although cross-sectional diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) studies revealed significant white matter changes in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the utility of this technique in predicting further cognitive decline is debated. Thirty-five healthy controls (HC) and 67 MCI subjects with DTI baseline data were neuropsychologically assessed at one year. Among them, there were 40 stable (sMCI; 9 single domain amnestic, 7 single domain frontal, 24 multiple domain) and 27 were progressive (pMCI; 7 single domain amnestic, 4 single domain frontal, 16 multiple domain). Fractional anisotropy (FA) and longitudinal, radial, and mean diffusivity were measured using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics. Statistics included group comparisons and individual classification of MCI cases using support vector machines (SVM). FA was significantly higher in HC compared to MCI in a distributed network including the ventral part of the corpus callosum, right temporal and frontal pathways. There were no significant group-level differences between sMCI versus pMCI or between MCI subtypes after correction for multiple comparisons. However, SVM analysis allowed for an individual classification with accuracies up to 91.4% (HC versus MCI) and 98.4% (sMCI versus pMCI). When considering the MCI subgroups separately, the minimum SVM classification accuracy for stable versus progressive cognitive decline was 97.5% in the multiple domain MCI group. SVM analysis of DTI data provided highly accurate individual classification of stable versus progressive MCI regardless of MCI subtype, indicating that this method may become an easily applicable tool for early individual detection of MCI subjects evolving to dementia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / metabolism*
  • Cognition Disorders / pathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / instrumentation
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Predictive Value of Tests