Correction for intracranial volume in analysis of whole brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis: the proportion vs. residual method

Neuroimage. 2004 Aug;22(4):1732-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.03.037.


Two techniques that correct (normalize) regional and whole brain volumes according to head size-the proportion method (tissue-to-intracranial volume ratio) and the residual method (regression-based predicted brain tissue volumes)-are used pervasively in neuroimaging research, but have received little critical evaluation or direct comparison. Using a quantitatively derived MRI data set of patients with multiple sclerosis (n = 18) and age-/sex-matched normal controls (n = 18), we introduced various types of error into estimates of intracranial volume (ICV) and absolute parenchymal volume (APV) to observe how this error affected the final outcome of normalized brain measures and their ability to detect group differences, as computed by a proportion (brain parenchymal fraction [BPF]) and residual method (predicted parenchymal volume [PPV]). The results indicated that systemic error in ICV and APV values considerably affected BPF means based on the proportion method, except with dependent-related systematic APV error, but essentially did not change statistical power associated with group differences in BPF. Random error altered BPF means to a much smaller extent, but was associated with moderate reductions in statistical power. On the other hand, PPV estimates based on the residual method were unaffected by these same ICV and APV errors, except with dependent-related systematic APV error, and were not associated with reductions in statistical power. Our findings suggest that head size correction of brain regions with the residual method generally may provide advantages over the proportion method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Atrophy
  • Bias
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cephalometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics as Topic