Multivariate Data Analysis for Neuroimaging Data: Overview and Application to Alzheimer's Disease

Habeck, Christian G.; Stern, Yaakov; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative

As clinical and cognitive neuroscience mature, the need for sophisticated neuroimaging analysis becomes more apparent. Multivariate analysis techniques have recently received increasing attention as they have many attractive features that cannot be easily realized by the more commonly used univariate, voxel-wise, techniques. Multivariate approaches evaluate correlation/covariance of activation across brain regions, rather than proceeding on a voxel-by-voxel basis. Thus, their results can be more easily interpreted as a signature of neural networks. Univariate approaches, on the other hand, cannot directly address functional connectivity in the brain. The covariance approach can also result in greater statistical power when compared with univariate techniques, which are forced to employ very stringent, and often overly conservative, corrections for voxel-wise multiple comparisons. Multivariate techniques also lend themselves much better to prospective application of results from the analysis of one dataset to entirely new datasets. Multivariate techniques are thus well placed to provide information about mean differences and correlations with behavior, similarly to univariate approaches, with potentially greater statistical power and better reproducibility checks. In contrast to these advantages is the high barrier of entry to the use of multivariate approaches, preventing more widespread application in the community. To the neuroscientist becoming familiar with multivariate analysis techniques, an initial survey of the field might present a bewildering variety of approaches that, although algorithmically similar, are presented with different emphases, typically by people with mathematics backgrounds. We believe that multivariate analysis techniques have sufficient potential to warrant better dissemination. Researchers should be able to employ them in an informed and accessible manner. The following article attempts to provide a basic introduction with sample applications to simulated and real-world data sets.


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Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics

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February 23, 2018