Hierarchical fully convolutional network for joint atrophy localization and Alzheimer's disease diagnosis using structural MRI

Chunfeng Lian, Mingxia Liu, Jun Zhang, Dinggang Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) has been widely used for computer-aided diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders, e.g., Alzheimer's disease (AD), due to its sensitivity to morphological changes caused by brain atrophy. Recently, a few deep learning methods (e.g., convolutional neural networks, CNNs) have been proposed to learn task-oriented features from sMRI for AD diagnosis, and achieved superior performance than the conventional learning-based methods using hand-crafted features. However, these existing CNN-based methods still require the pre-determination of informative locations in sMRI. That is, the stage of discriminative atrophy localization is isolated to the latter stages of feature extraction and classifier construction. In this paper, we propose a hierarchical fully convolutional network (H-FCN) to automatically identify discriminative local patches and regions in the whole brain sMRI, upon which multi-scale feature representations are then jointly learned and fused to construct hierarchical classification models for AD diagnosis. Our proposed H-FCN method was evaluated on a large cohort of subjects from two independent datasets (i.e., ADNI-1 and ADNI-2), demonstrating good performance on joint discriminative atrophy localization and brain disease diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8585141
Pages (from-to)880-893
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1


  • Computer-aided Alzheimer's disease diagnosis
  • discriminative atrophy localization
  • fully convolutional networks
  • structural MRI
  • weakly-supervised learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


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