Longitudinal Mapping of Cortical Thickness Measurements: An Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative-Based Evaluation Study

Nicholas J. Tustison*, Andrew J. Holbrook, Brian B. Avants, Jared M. Roberts, Philip A. Cook, Zachariah M. Reagh, Jeffrey T. Duda, James R. Stone, Daniel L. Gillen, Michael A. Yassa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Longitudinal studies of development and disease in the human brain have motivated the acquisition of large neuroimaging data sets and the concomitant development of robust methodological and statistical tools for quantifying neurostructural changes. Longitudinal-specific strategies for acquisition and processing have potentially significant benefits including more consistent estimates of intra-subject measurements while retaining predictive power. Using the first phase of the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI-1) data, comprising over 600 subjects with multiple time points from baseline to 36 months, we evaluate the utility of longitudinal FreeSurfer and Advanced Normalization Tools (ANTs) surrogate thickness values in the context of a linear mixed-effects (LME) modeling strategy. Specifically, we estimate the residual variability and between-subject variability associated with each processing stream as it is known from the statistical literature that minimizing the former while simultaneously maximizing the latter leads to greater scientific interpretability in terms of tighter confidence intervals in calculated mean trends, smaller prediction intervals, and narrower confidence intervals for determining cross-sectional effects. This strategy is evaluated over the entire cortex, as defined by the Desikan-Killiany-Tourville labeling protocol, where comparisons are made with the cross-sectional and longitudinal FreeSurfer processing streams. Subsequent linear mixed effects modeling for identifying diagnostic groupings within the ADNI cohort is provided as supporting evidence for the utility of the proposed ANTs longitudinal framework which provides unbiased structural neuroimage processing and competitive to superior power for longitudinal structural change detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-183
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Advanced normalization tools
  • FreeSurfer
  • linear mixed effects models
  • longitudinal processing


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