Speeding up Permutation Testing in Neuroimaging

Hinrichs, Chris, Ithapu, Vamsi K., Sun, Qinyuan, Johnson, Sterling C., and Singh, Vikas

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS). 2013 Dec; 2013:890-898.


Multiple hypothesis testing is a significant problem in nearly all neuroimaging studies. In order to correct for this phenomena, we require a reliable estimate of the Family-Wise Error Rate (FWER). The well known Bonferroni correction method, while simple to implement, is quite conservative, and can substantially under-power a study because it ignores dependencies between test statistics. Per- mutation testing, on the other hand, is an exact, non-parametric method of es- timating the FWER for a given α-threshold, but for acceptably low thresholds the computational burden can be prohibitive. In this paper, we show that permu- tation testing in fact amounts to populating the columns of a very large matrix P. By analyzing the spectrum of this matrix, under certain conditions, we see that P has a low-rank plus a low-variance residual decomposition which makes it suitable for highly sub–sampled — on the order of 0.5% — matrix comple- tion methods. Based on this observation, we propose a novel permutation testing methodology which offers a large speedup, without sacrificing the fidelity of the estimated FWER. Our evaluations on four different neuroimaging datasets show that a computational speedup factor of roughly 50× can be achieved while recov- ering the FWER distribution up to very high accuracy. Further, we show that the estimated α-threshold is also recovered faithfully, and is stable.


Contributing Lab Members