The infant brain undergoes a remarkable period of neural development that is crucial for the development of cognitive and behavioral capacities (Hasegawa et al., 2018). Longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is able to characterize the developmental trajectories and is critical in neuroimaging studies of early brain development. However, missing data at different time points is an unavoidable occurrence in longitudinal studies owing to participant attrition and scan failure. Compared to dropping incomplete data, data imputation is considered a better solution to address such missing data in order to preserve all available samples. In this paper, we adapt generative adversarial networks (GAN) to a new application: longitudinal image prediction of structural MRI in the first year of life. In contrast to existing medical image-to-image translation applications of GANs, where inputs and outputs share a very close anatomical structure, our task is more challenging as brain size, shape and tissue contrast vary significantly between the input data and the predicted data. Several improvements over existing GAN approaches are proposed to address these challenges in our task. To enhance the realism, crispness, and accuracy of the predicted images, we incorporate both a traditional voxel-wise reconstruction loss as well as a perceptual loss term into the adversarial learning scheme. As the differing contrast changes in T1w and T2w MR images in the first year of life, we incorporate multi-contrast images leading to our proposed 3D multi-contrast perceptual adversarial network (MPGAN). Extensive evaluations are performed to assess the qualityand fidelity of the predicted images, including qualitative and quantitative assessments of the image appearance, as well as quantitative assessment on two segmentation tasks. Our experimental results show that our MPGAN is an effective solution for longitudinal MR image data imputation in the infant brain. We further apply our predicted/imputed images to two practical tasks, a regression task and a classification task, in order to highlight the enhanced task-related performance following image imputation. The results show that the model performance in both tasks is improved by including the additional imputed data, demonstrating the usability of the predicted images generated from our approach.
- generative adversarial networks
- longitudinal prediction
- machine learning
- postnatal brain development