Heliyon, Volume 7, June 2021,
Based on the joint HCPMMP parcellation method we developed before, which divides the cortical brain into 360 regions, the concept of ordered core features (OCF) is first proposed to reveal the functional brain connectivity relationship among different cohorts of Alzheimer's disease (AD), late mild cognitive impairment (LMCI), early mild cognitive impairment (EMCI) and healthy controls (HC). A set of core network features that change significantly under the specifically progressive relationship were extracted and used as supervised machine learning classifiers. The network nodes in this set mainly locate in the frontal lobe and insular, forming a narrow band, which are responsible for cognitive impairment as suggested by previous finding. By using these features, the accuracy ranged from 86.0% to 95.5% in binary classification between any pair of cohorts, higher than 70.1%–91.0% when using all network features. In multi-group classification, the average accuracy was 75% or 78% for HC, EMCI, LMCI or EMCI, LMCI, AD against baseline of 33%, and 53.3% for HC, EMCI, LMCI and AD against baseline of 25%. In addition, the recognition rate was lower when combining EMCI and LMCI patients into one group of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) for classification, suggesting that there exists a big difference between early and late MCI patients. This finding supports the EMCI/LMCI inclusion criteria introduced by ADNI based on neuropsychological assessments.