TwinMARM: two-stage multiscale adaptive regression methods for twin neuroimaging data


Twin imaging studies have been valuable for understanding the relative contribution of the environment and genes on brain structures and their functions. Conventional analyses of twin imaging data include three sequential steps: spatially smoothing imaging data, independently fitting a structural equation model at each voxel, and finally correcting for multiple comparisons. However, conventional analyses are limited due to the same amount of smoothing throughout the whole image, the arbitrary choice of smoothing extent, and the decreased power in detecting environmental and genetic effects introduced by smoothing raw images. The goal of this paper is to develop a two-stage multiscale adaptive regression method (TwinMARM) for spatial and adaptive analysis of twin neuroimaging and behavioral data. The first stage is to establish the relationship between twin imaging data and a set of covariates of interest, such as age and gender. The second stage is to disentangle the environmental and genetic influences on brain structures and their functions. In each stage, TwinMARM employs hierarchically nested spheres with increasing radii at each location and then captures spatial dependence among imaging observations via consecutively connected spheres across all voxels. Simulation studies show that our TwinMARM significantly outperforms conventional analyses of twin imaging data. Finally, we use our method to detect statistically significant effects of genetic and environmental variations on white matter structures in a neonatal twin study.

Publication Title

IEEE transactions on medical imaging