Separating Symptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease from Depression based on Structural MRI

Klöppel, Stefan; Kotschi, Maria; Peter, Jessica; Egger, Karl; Hausner, Lucrezia; Frölich, Lutz; Förster, Alex; Heimbach, Bernhard; Normann, Claus; Vach, Werner; Urbach, Horst; Abdulkadir, Ahmed (2018). Separating Symptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease from Depression based on Structural MRI. Journal of Alzheimer's disease, 63(1), pp. 353-363. IOS Press 10.3233/JAD-170964

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Older patients with depression or Alzheimer's disease (AD) at the stage of early dementia or mild cognitive impairment may present with objective cognitive impairment, although the pathology and thus therapy and prognosis differ substantially. In this study, we assessed the potential of an automated algorithm to categorize a test set of 65 T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance images (MRI). A convenience sample of elderly individuals fulfilling clinical criteria of either AD (n = 28) or moderate and severe depression (n = 37) was recruited from different settings to assess the potential of the pattern recognition method to assist in the differential diagnosis of AD versus depression. We found that our algorithm learned discriminative patterns in the subject's grey matter distribution reflected by an area under the receiver operator characteristics curve of up to 0.83 (confidence interval ranged from 0.67 to 0.92) and a balanced accuracy of 0.79 for the separation of depression from AD, evaluated by leave-one-out cross validation. The algorithm also identified consistent structural differences in a clinically more relevant scenario where the data used during training were independent from the data used for evaluation and, critically, which included five possible diagnoses (specifically AD, frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia, depression, and healthy aging). While the output was insufficiently accurate to use it directly as a means for classification when multiple classes are possible, the continuous output computed by the machine learning algorithm differed between the two groups that were investigated. The automated analysis thus could complement, but not replace clinical assessments.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Geriatric Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

UniBE Contributor:

Klöppel, Stefan, Peter, Jessica, Abdulkadir, Ahmed




IOS Press




Katharina Klink

Date Deposited:

30 Apr 2018 09:31

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:12

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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