Alzheimer's disease diagnosis based on the Hippocampal Unified Multi-Atlas Network (HUMAN) algorithm

Nicola Amoroso, Marianna La Rocca, Roberto Bellotti, Annarita Fanizzi, Alfonso Monaco, Sabina Tangaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hippocampal atrophy is a supportive feature for the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, even for an expert neuroradiologist, tracing the hippocampus and measuring its volume is a time consuming and extremely challenging task. Accordingly, the development of reliable fully-automated segmentation algorithms is of paramount importance. Materials and methods: The present study evaluates (i) the precision and the robustness of the novel Hippocampal Unified Multi-Atlas Network (HUMAN) segmentation algorithm and (ii) its clinical reliability for AD diagnosis. For these purposes, we used a mixed cohort of 456 subjects and their T1 weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. The cohort included 145 controls (CTRL), 217 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) subjects and 94 AD patients from Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). For each subject the baseline, repeat, 12 and 24 month follow-up scans were available. Results: HUMAN provides hippocampal volumes with a 3% precision; volume measurements effectively reveal AD, with an area under the curve (AUC) AUC1=0.08±0.02. Segmented volumes can also reveal the subtler effects present in MCI subjects, AUC2=0.76±0.05. The algorithm is stable and reproducible over time, even for 24 month follow-up scans. Conclusions: The experimental results demonstrate HUMAN is a precise segmentation algorithm, besides hippocampal volumes, provided by HUMAN, can effectively support the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and become a useful tool for other neuroimaging applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages6
JournalBioMedical Engineering Online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 22 2018


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Hippocampal Segmentation
  • MCI
  • Multi-atlas
  • Neural Networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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