Quantifying anatomical shape variations in neurological disorders

Nikhil Singh, P. Thomas Fletcher, J. Samuel Preston, Richard D. King, J. S. Marron, Michael W. Weiner, Sarang Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We develop a multivariate analysis of brain anatomy to identify the relevant shape deformation patterns and quantify the shape changes that explain corresponding variations in clinical neuropsychological measures. We use kernel Partial Least Squares (PLS) and formulate a regression model in the tangent space of the manifold of diffeomorphisms characterized by deformation momenta. The scalar deformation momenta completely encode the diffeomorphic changes in anatomical shape. In this model, the clinical measures are the response variables, while the anatomical variability is treated as the independent variable. To better understand the "shape-clinical response" relationship, we also control for demographic confounders, such as age, gender, and years of education in our regression model. We evaluate the proposed methodology on the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database using baseline structural MR imaging data and neuropsychological evaluation test scores. We demonstrate the ability of our model to quantify the anatomical deformations in units of clinical response. Our results also demonstrate that the proposed method is generic and generates reliable shape deformations both in terms of the extracted patterns and the amount of shape changes. We found that while the hippocampus and amygdala emerge as mainly responsible for changes in test scores for global measures of dementia and memory function, they are not a determinant factor for executive function. Another critical finding was the appearance of thalamus and putamen as most important regions that relate to executive function. These resulting anatomical regions were consistent with very high confidence irrespective of the size of the population used in the study. This data-driven global analysis of brain anatomy was able to reach similar conclusions as other studies in Alzheimer's disease based on predefined ROIs, together with the identification of other new patterns of deformation. The proposed methodology thus holds promise for discovering new patterns of shape changes in the human brain that could add to our understanding of disease progression in neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-633
Number of pages18
JournalMedical Image Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection and sharing for this project was funded by the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) (National Institutes of Health Grant U01 AG024904). As such, the investigators within the ADNI contributed to the design and implementation of ADNI and/or provided data but did not participate in the analysis or writing of this report. The research in this paper was also supported by NIH Grant 5R01EB007688 , the University of California, San Francisco (NIH Grant P41 RR023953), NSF Grant CNS-0751152 , and NSF CAREER Grant 1054057 .


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Computational anatomy
  • Deformation momenta
  • Kernel partial least squares (PLS)
  • Prediction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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