Statistics in experimental cerebrovascular research: comparison of more than two groups with a continuous outcome variable

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Sep;30(9):1558-63. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2010.95. Epub 2010 Jun 23.


A common setting in experimental cerebrovascular research is the comparison of more than two experimental groups. Often, continuous measures such as infarct volume, cerebral blood flow, or vessel diameter are the primary variables of interest. This article presents the principles of the statistical analysis of comparing more than two groups using analysis of variance (ANOVA). We will also explain post hoc comparisons, which are required to show which groups significantly differ once ANOVA has rejected the null hypothesis. Although statistical packages perform ANOVA and post hoc contrast at a key stroke, in this study, we use examples from experimental stroke research to reveal the simple math behind the calculations and the basic principles. This will enable the reader to understand and correctly interpret the readout of statistical packages and to help prevent common errors in the comparison of multiple means.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology
  • Software
  • Treatment Outcome