Published on Tue May 25 2021

A simple permutation-based test of intermodal correspondence

Weinstein, S. M., Vandekar, S. N., Adebimpe, A., Tapera, T. M., Robert-Fitzgerald, T., Gur, R. C., Gur, R. E., Raznahan, A., Satterthwaite, T. D., Alexander-Bloch, A. F., Shinohara, R. T.

Many key findings in neuroimaging studies involve similarities between brain maps. Current state-of-the-art methods involve comparing observed group-level brain maps against spatial null models. We propose using subject-level data and a classical permutation testing framework.

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Abstract

Many key findings in neuroimaging studies involve similarities between brain maps, but statistical methods used to measure these findings have varied. Current state-of-the-art methods involve comparing observed group-level brain maps (after averaging intensities at each image location across multiple subjects) against spatial null models of these group-level maps. However, these methods typically make strong and potentially unrealistic statistical assumptions, such as covariance stationarity. To address these issues, in this paper we propose using subject-level data and a classical permutation testing framework to test and assess similarities between brain maps. Our method is comparable to traditional permutation tests in that it involves randomly permuting subjects to generate a null distribution of intermodal correspondence statistics, which we compare to an observed statistic to estimate a p-value. We apply and compare our method in simulated and real neuroimaging data from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. We show that our method performs well for detecting relationships between modalities known to be strongly related (cortical thickness and sulcal depth), and it is conservative when an association would not be expected (cortical thickness and activation on the n-back working memory task). Notably, our method is the most flexible and reliable for localizing intermodal relationships within subregions of the brain and allows for generalizable statistical inference.