Novel Approaches to Adjusting for Population Heterogeneity and Representation in Neuroimaging Studies

Data & Methods

Project Summary

Big data featuring neuroimaging information collected from large population-based samples have spurred the emergence of population neuroscience research. However, traditional methods for neuroscience research are based on nonrepresentative samples that deviate from the target population, such as convenience and volunteer samples. The lack of representativeness may distort association studies of brain-cognition mechanisms.

The research team’s collaborative work on the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study motivated this project, which presents these common problems in empirical neuroimaging studies, to fill the gap in statistical methodology between survey and neuroscience research. The team develops new strategies to adjust for nonrepresentativeness in association studies with complex and nontraditional survey designs, and to quantify the potential impact of sampling features on statistical and substantive inferences.

The overall objectives are to identify population heterogeneity in the association studies between imaging and cognitive ability measures and generalize multilevel regression and poststratification as a robust framework for inferences based on nonprobability samples. The software delivery with computational scalability and step-by-step guidelines will provide practical recommendations and tools to map the relationships and adjust for selection bias when making population inference. This interdisciplinary project will strengthen the validity and generalizability of population neuroscience research, deepen new association understandings of brain and cognition, and facilitate policy intervention.


Yajuan Si

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