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Methodology (stat.ME)

Fri, 28 Apr 2023

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1.A robust multivariate, non-parametric outlier identification method for scrubbing in fMRI

Authors:Fatma Parlak, Damon D. Pham, Amanda F. Mejia

Abstract: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data contain high levels of noise and artifacts. To avoid contamination of downstream analyses, fMRI-based studies must identify and remove these noise sources prior to statistical analysis. One common approach is the "scrubbing" of fMRI volumes that are thought to contain high levels of noise. However, existing scrubbing techniques are based on ad hoc measures of signal change. We consider scrubbing via outlier detection, where volumes containing artifacts are considered multidimensional outliers. Robust multivariate outlier detection methods are proposed using robust distances (RDs), which are related to the Mahalanobis distance. These RDs have a known distribution when the data are i.i.d. normal, and that distribution can be used to determine a threshold for outliers where fMRI data violate these assumptions. Here, we develop a robust multivariate outlier detection method that is applicable to non-normal data. The objective is to obtain threshold values to flag outlying volumes based on their RDs. We propose two threshold candidates that embark on the same two steps, but the choice of which depends on a researcher's purpose. Our main steps are dimension reduction and selection, robust univariate outlier imputation to get rid of the effect of outliers on the distribution, and estimating an outlier threshold based on the upper quantile of the RD distribution without outliers. The first threshold candidate is an upper quantile of the empirical distribution of RDs obtained from the imputed data. The second threshold candidate calculates the upper quantile of the RD distribution that a nonparametric bootstrap uses to account for uncertainty in the empirical quantile. We compare our proposed fMRI scrubbing method to motion scrubbing, data-driven scrubbing, and restrictive parametric multivariate outlier detection methods.

2.Bayesian Testing of Scientific Expectations Under Exponential Random Graph Models

Authors:Joris Mulder, Nial Friel, Philip Leifeld

Abstract: The exponential random graph (ERGM) model is a popular statistical framework for studying the determinants of tie formations in social network data. To test scientific theories under the ERGM framework, statistical inferential techniques are generally used based on traditional significance testing using p values. This methodology has certain limitations however such as its inconsistent behavior when the null hypothesis is true, its inability to quantify evidence in favor of a null hypothesis, and its inability to test multiple hypotheses with competing equality and/or order constraints on the parameters of interest in a direct manner. To tackle these shortcomings, this paper presents Bayes factors and posterior probabilities for testing scientific expectations under a Bayesian framework. The methodology is implemented in the R package 'BFpack'. The applicability of the methodology is illustrated using empirical collaboration networks and policy networks.

3.Identification and Estimation of Causal Effects Using non-Gaussianity and Auxiliary Covariates

Authors:Kang Shuai, Shanshan Luo, Yue Zhang, Feng Xie, Yangbo He

Abstract: Assessing causal effects in the presence of unmeasured confounding is a challenging problem. Although auxiliary variables, such as instrumental variables, are commonly used to identify causal effects, they are often unavailable in practice due to stringent and untestable conditions. To address this issue, previous researches have utilized linear structural equation models to show that the causal effect can be identifiable when noise variables of the treatment and outcome are both non-Gaussian. In this paper, we investigate the problem of identifying the causal effect using auxiliary covariates and non-Gaussianity from the treatment. Our key idea is to characterize the impact of unmeasured confounders using an observed covariate, assuming they are all Gaussian. The auxiliary covariate can be an invalid instrument or an invalid proxy variable. We demonstrate that the causal effect can be identified using this measured covariate, even when the only source of non-Gaussianity comes from the treatment. We then extend the identification results to the multi-treatment setting and provide sufficient conditions for identification. Based on our identification results, we propose a simple and efficient procedure for calculating causal effects and show the $\sqrt{n}$-consistency of the proposed estimator. Finally, we evaluate the performance of our estimator through simulation studies and an application.

4.PAM: Plaid Atoms Model for Bayesian Nonparametric Analysis of Grouped Data

Authors:Dehua Bi, Yuan Ji

Abstract: We consider dependent clustering of observations in groups. The proposed model, called the plaid atoms model (PAM), estimates a set of clusters for each group and allows some clusters to be either shared with other groups or uniquely possessed by the group. PAM is based on an extension to the well-known stick-breaking process by adding zero as a possible value for the cluster weights, resulting in a zero-augmented beta (ZAB) distribution in the model. As a result, ZAB allows some cluster weights to be exactly zero in multiple groups, thereby enabling shared and unique atoms across groups. We explore theoretical properties of PAM and show its connection to known Bayesian nonparametric models. We propose an efficient slice sampler for posterior inference. Minor extensions of the proposed model for multivariate or count data are presented. Simulation studies and applications using real-world datasets illustrate the model's desirable performance.