Deep neural networks have led to state-of-the-art results in many medical imaging tasks including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) detection based on structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data. However, the network decisions are often perceived as being highly non-transparent, making it difficult to apply these algorithms in clinical routine. In this study, we propose using layer-wise relevance propagation (LRP) to visualize convolutional neural network decisions for AD based on MRI data. Similarly to other visualization methods, LRP produces a heatmap in the input space indicating the importance/relevance of each voxel contributing to the final classification outcome. In contrast to susceptibility maps produced by guided backpropagation (“Which change in voxels would change the outcome most?”), the LRP method is able to directly highlight positive contributions to the network classification in the input space. In particular, we show that (1) the LRP method is very specific for individuals (“Why does this person have AD?”) with high inter-patient variability, (2) there is very little relevance for AD in healthy controls and (3) areas that exhibit a lot of relevance correlate well with what is known from literature. To quantify the latter, we compute size-corrected metrics of the summed relevance per brain area, e.g., relevance density or relevance gain. Although these metrics produce very individual “fingerprints” of relevance patterns for AD patients, a lot of importance is put on areas in the temporal lobe including the hippocampus. After discussing several limitations such as sensitivity toward the underlying model and computation parameters, we conclude that LRP might have a high potential to assist clinicians in explaining neural network decisions for diagnosing AD (and potentially other diseases) based on structural MRI data.
layer-wise relevance propagation
convolutional neural networks (CNN)
600 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften::610 Medizin und Gesundheit::610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Layer-Wise Relevance Propagation for Explaining Deep Neural Network Decisions in MRI-Based Alzheimer's Disease Classification
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Frontiers Media S.A.
Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin