Improving mass-univariate analysis of neuroimaging data by modelling important unknown covariates: Application to Epigenome-Wide Association Studies.

TitleImproving mass-univariate analysis of neuroimaging data by modelling important unknown covariates: Application to Epigenome-Wide Association Studies.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGuillaume B, Wang C, Poh J, Shen MJun, Ong MLyn, Tan PFang, Karnani N, Meaney MJ, Qiu A
JournalNeuroimage
Volume173
Pagination57-71
Date Published2018 Jun
ISSN1095-9572
Abstract

Statistical inference on neuroimaging data is often conducted using a mass-univariate model, equivalent to fitting a linear model at every voxel with a known set of covariates. Due to the large number of linear models, it is challenging to check if the selection of covariates is appropriate and to modify this selection adequately. The use of standard diagnostics, such as residual plotting, is clearly not practical for neuroimaging data. However, the selection of covariates is crucial for linear regression to ensure valid statistical inference. In particular, the mean model of regression needs to be reasonably well specified. Unfortunately, this issue is often overlooked in the field of neuroimaging. This study aims to adopt the existing Confounder Adjusted Testing and Estimation (CATE) approach and to extend it for use with neuroimaging data. We propose a modification of CATE that can yield valid statistical inferences using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) estimators instead of Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimators. We then propose a non-parametric hypothesis testing procedure that can improve upon parametric testing. Monte Carlo simulations show that the modification of CATE allows for more accurate modelling of neuroimaging data and can in turn yield a better control of False Positive Rate (FPR) and Family-Wise Error Rate (FWER). We demonstrate its application to an Epigenome-Wide Association Study (EWAS) on neonatal brain imaging and umbilical cord DNA methylation data obtained as part of a longitudinal cohort study. Software for this CATE study is freely available at http://www.bioeng.nus.edu.sg/cfa/Imaging_Genetics2.html.

DOI10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.01.073
Alternate JournalNeuroimage
PubMed ID29448075