Curriculum Based Multi-Task Learning for Parkinson's Disease Detection

Nikhil J. Dhinagar*, Conor Owens-Walton, Emily Laltoo, Christina P. Boyle, Yao Liang Chen, Philip Cook, Corey McMillan, Chih Chien Tsai, J. J. Wang, Yih Ru Wu, Ysbrand Van Der Werf, Paul M. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


There is great interest in developing radiological classifiers for diagnosis, staging, and predictive modeling in progressive diseases such as Parkinson's disease (PD), a neurodegenerative disease that is difficult to detect in its early stages. Here we leverage severity-based meta-data on the stages of disease to define a curriculum for training a deep convolutional neural network (CNN). Typically, deep learning networks are trained by randomly selecting samples in each mini-batch. By contrast, curriculum learning is a training strategy that aims to boost classifier performance by starting with examples that are easier to classify. Here we define a curriculum to progressively increase the difficulty of the training data corresponding to the Hoehn and Yahr (H&Y) staging system for PD (total N=1,012; 653 PD patients, 359 controls; age range: 20.0-84.9 years). Even with our multi-task setting using pre-trained CNNs and transfer learning, PD classification based on T1-weighted (T1-w) MRI was challenging (ROC AUC: 0.59-0.65), but curriculum training boosted performance (by 3.9%) compared to our baseline model. Future work with multimodal imaging may further boost performance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2023 IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, ISBI 2023
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781665473583
StatePublished - 2023
Event20th IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, ISBI 2023 - Cartagena, Colombia
Duration: 18 04 202321 04 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging
ISSN (Print)1945-7928
ISSN (Electronic)1945-8452


Conference20th IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, ISBI 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 IEEE.


  • Parkinson's disease
  • curriculum learning
  • multi-task
  • staging


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