Accurate measurement of brain changes in longitudinal MRI scans using tensor-based morphometry

Xue Hua, Boris Gutman, Christina P. Boyle, Priya Rajagopalan, Alex D. Leow, Igor Yanovsky, Anand R. Kumar, Arthur W. Toga, Clifford R. Jack, Norbert Schuff, Gene E. Alexander, Kewei Chen, Eric M. Reiman, Michael W. Weiner, Paul M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


This paper responds to Thompson and Holland (2011), who challenged our tensor-based morphometry (TBM) method for estimating rates of brain changes in serial MRI from 431 subjects scanned every 6. months, for 2. years. Thompson and Holland noted an unexplained jump in our atrophy rate estimates: an offset between 0 and 6. months that may bias clinical trial power calculations. We identified why this jump occurs and propose a solution. By enforcing inverse-consistency in our TBM method, the offset dropped from 1.4% to 0.28%, giving plausible anatomical trajectories. Transitivity error accounted for the minimal remaining offset. Drug trial sample size estimates with the revised TBM-derived metrics are highly competitive with other methods, though higher than previously reported sample size estimates by a factor of 1.6 to 2.4. Importantly, estimates are far below those given in the critique. To demonstrate a 25% slowing of atrophic rates with 80% power, 62 AD and 129 MCI subjects would be required for a 2-year trial, and 91 AD and 192 MCI subjects for a 1-year trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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