Large-scale functional or structural brain connectivity can be modeled as a network, or graph. This paper presents a statistical approach to identify connections in such a graph that may be associated with a diagnostic status in case-control studies, changing psychological contexts in task-based studies, or correlations with various cognitive and behavioral measures. The new approach, called the network-based statistic (NBS), is a method to control the family-wise error rate (in the weak sense) when mass-univariate testing is performed at every connection comprising the graph. To potentially offer a substantial gain in power, the NBS exploits the extent to which the connections comprising the contrast or effect of interest are interconnected. The NBS is based on the principles underpinning traditional cluster-based thresholding of statistical parametric maps. The purpose of this paper is to: (i) introduce the NBS for the first time; (ii) evaluate its power with the use of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves; and, (iii) demonstrate its utility with application to a real case-control study involving a group of people with schizophrenia for which resting-state functional MRI data were acquired. The NBS identified a expansive dysconnected subnetwork in the group with schizophrenia, primarily comprising fronto-temporal and occipito-temporal dysconnections, whereas a mass-univariate analysis controlled with the false discovery rate failed to identify a subnetwork.
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