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© Institute of Mathematical Statistics, 2014. Neuroimaging meta-analysis is an important tool for finding consistent effects over studies that each usually have 20 or fewer subjects. Interest in meta-analysis in brain mapping is also driven by a recent focus on so-called “reverse inference”: where as traditional “forward inference” identifies the regions of the brain involved in a task, a reverse inference identifies the cognitive processes that a task engages. Such reverse inferences, however, require a set of meta-analysis, one for each possible cognitive domain. However, existing methods for neuroimaging meta-analysis have significant limitations. Commonly used methods for neuroimaging meta-analysis are not model based, do not provide interpretable parameter estimates, and only produce null hypothesis inferences; further, they are generally designed for a single group of studies and cannot produce reverse inferences. In this work we address these limitations by adopting a nonparametric Bayesian approach for meta-analysis data from multiple classes or types of studies. In particular, foci from each type of study are modeled as a cluster process driven by a random intensity function that is modeled as a kernel convolution of a gamma random field. The type-specific gamma random fields are linked and modeled as a realization of a common gamma random field, shared by all types, that induces correlation between study types and mimics the behavior of a univariate mixed effects model. We illustrate our model on simulation studies and a meta-analysis of five emotions from 219 studies and check model fit by a posterior predictive assessment. In addition, we implement reverse inference by using the model to predict study type from a newly presented study. We evaluate this predictive performance via leave-one-out cross-validation that is efficiently implemented using importance sampling techniques.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of Applied Statistics

Publication Date





1561 - 1582