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L. A. De Santi, E. Pasini, M. F. Santarelli, et al. "An Explainable Convolutional Neural Network for the Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease from 18F-FDG PET." J Digit Imaging (2022).

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Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) which support the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease using 18F-FDG PET images are obtaining promising results; however, one of the main challenges in this domain is the fact that these models work as black-box systems. We developed a CNN that performs a multiclass classification task of volumetric 18F-FDG PET images, and we experimented two different post hoc explanation techniques developed in the field of Explainable Artificial Intelligence: Saliency Map (SM) and Layerwise Relevance Propagation (LRP). Finally, we quantitatively analyze the explanations returned and inspect their relationship with the PET signal. We collected 2552 scans from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative labeled as Cognitively Normal (CN), Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and we developed and tested a 3D CNN that classifies the 3D PET scans into its final clinical diagnosis. The model developed achieves, to the best of our knowledge, performances comparable with the relevant literature on the test set, with an average Area Under the Curve (AUC) for prediction of CN, MCI, and AD 0.81, 0.63, and 0.77 respectively. We registered the heatmaps with the Talairach Atlas to perform a regional quantitative analysis of the relationship between heatmaps and PET signals. With the quantitative analysis of the post hoc explanation techniques, we observed that LRP maps were more effective in mapping the importance metrics in the anatomic atlas. No clear relationship was found between the heatmap and the PET signal.

Keywords: {Alzheimer’s Disease, 18F-FDG PET, Deep Learning, Classification, Explainable Artificial Intelligence}