An improved I-FAST system for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease from unprocessed electroencephalograms by using robust invariant features

Massimo Buscema, Fabrizio Vernieri, Giulia Massini, Federica Scrascia, Marco Breda, Paolo Maria Rossini, Enzo Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This paper proposes a new, complex algorithm for the blind classification of the original electroencephalogram (EEG) tracing of each subject, without any preliminary pre-processing. The medical need in this field is to reach an early differential diagnosis between subjects affected by mild cognitive impairment (MCI), early Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the healthy elderly (CTR) using only the recording and the analysis of few minutes of their EEG. Methods and material: This study analyzed the EEGs of 272 subjects, recorded at Rome's Neurology Unit of the Policlinico Campus Bio-Medico. The EEG recordings were performed using 19 electrodes, in a 0.3-70. Hz bandpass, positioned according to the International 10-20 System. Many powerful learning machines and algorithms have been proposed during the last 20 years to effectively resolve this complex problem, resulting in different and interesting outcomes. Among these algorithms, a new artificial adaptive system, named implicit function as squashing time (I-FAST), is able to diagnose, with high accuracy, a few minutes of the subject's EEG track; whether it manifests an AD, MCI or CTR condition. An updating of this system, carried out by adding a new algorithm, named multi scale ranked organizing maps (MS-ROM), to the I-FAST system, is presented, in order to classify with greater accuracy the unprocessed EEG's of AD, MCI and control subjects. Results: The proposed system has been measured on three independent pattern recognition tasks from unprocessed EEG tracks of a sample of AD subjects, MCI subjects and CTR: (a) AD compared with CTR; (b) AD compared with MCI; (c) CTR compared with MCI. While the values of accuracy of the previous system in distinguishing between AD and MCI were around 92%, the new proposed system reaches values between 94% and 98%. Similarly, the overall accuracy with best artificial neural networks (ANNs) is 98.25% for the distinguishing between CTR and MCI. Conclusions: This new version of I-FAST makes different steps forward: (a) avoidance of pre-processing phase and filtering procedure of EEG data, being the algorithm able to directly process an unprocessed EEG; (b) noise elimination, through the use of a training variant with input selection and testing system, based on naïve Bayes classifier; (c) a more robust classification phase, showing the stability of results on nine well known learning machine algorithms; (d) extraction of spatial invariants of an EEG signal using, in addition to the unsupervised ANN, the principal component analysis and the multi scale entropy, together with the MS-ROM; a more accurate performance in this specific task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Implicit function as squashing time
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Multi scale ranked organizing maps
  • Training with input selection and testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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