Aging is associated with structural alterations in many regions of the brain. Monitoring these changes contributes to increasing our understanding of the brain's morphological alterations across its lifespan, and could allow the identification of departures from canonical trajectories. Here, we introduce a novel and unique patch-based grading procedure for estimating a synthetic estimate of cortical aging in cognitively intact individuals. The cortical age metric is computed based on image similarity between an unknown (test) cortical label and known (training) cortical labels using machine learning algorithms. The proposed method was trained on a dataset of 100 cognitively intact individuals aged 19-61 years, within the 31 bilateral cortical labels of the Desikan-Killiany-Tourville parcellation, then tested on an independent test set of 78 cognitively intact individuals spanning a similar age range. The proposed patch-based framework yielded a R2 = 0.94, as well as a mean absolute error of 1.66 years, which compared favorably to the literature. These experimental results demonstrate that the proposed patch-based grading framework is a reliable and robust method to estimate brain age from image data, even with a limited training size.
Keywords: Anatomical MRI; Brain age; Grading; Patch-based segmentation.
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