Cher Bass, Mariana da Silva, Carole Sudre, Petru-Daniel Tudosiu, Stephen Smith, Emma Robinson
Feature attribution (FA), or the assignment of class-relevance to different locations in an image, is important for many classification problems but is particularly crucial within the neuroscience domain, where accurate mechanistic models of behaviours, or disease, require knowledge of all features discriminative of a trait. At the same time, predicting class relevance from brain images is challenging as phenotypes are typically heterogeneous, and changes occur against a background of significant natural variation. Here, we present a novel framework for creating class specific FA maps through image-to-image translation. We propose the use of a VAE-GAN to explicitly disentangle class relevance from background features for improved interpretability properties, which results in meaningful FA maps. We validate our method on 2D and 3D brain image datasets of dementia (ADNI dataset), ageing (UK Biobank), and (simulated) lesion detection. We show that FA maps generated by our method outperform baseline FA methods when validated against ground truth. More significantly, our approach is the first to use latent space sampling to support exploration of phenotype variation.