A new statistical method for testing hypotheses of neuropsychological/MRI relationships in schizophrenia: partial least squares analysis

Nestor PG, O’Donnell BF, McCarley RW, Niznikiewicz M, Barnard J, Jen Shen Z, Bookstein FL, Shenton ME

Schizophr. Res. 2002 Jan;53(1-2):57-66

PMID: 11728838


We applied partial least squares (PLS) as a novel multivariate statistical technique to examine neuropsychological correlates of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of brain volumes in a well studied sample of 15 male patients with chronic schizophrenia. In the current study, because the total number of measures far surpassed the total number of subjects, extant multivariate techniques such as canonical correlation could not be used to examine relationships among simultaneous measures of MRI and neuropsychology. Moreover, because MRI measures were expected to be highly inter-correlated, as would be neuropsychological test scores, extant multivariate statistical techniques would be substantially limited because they typically assume statistical independence among sets of measures. PLS, on the other hand, proved to be especially well suited to examining the relationships among function and anatomy measures in this sample, where statistically significant relationships were demonstrated that were entirely consistent with prior studies using univariate correlation techniques. In particular, statistically significant relationships emerged among sets of MRI temporal lobe measures and neuropsychological tests of verbal memory and categorization as well as among MRI frontal measures and neuropsychological tests of working memory.