Decentralized Multisite VBM Analysis During Adolescence Shows Structural Changes Linked to Age, Body Mass Index, and Smoking: a COINSTAC Analysis

Harshvardhan Gazula, Bharath Holla, Zuo Zhang, Jiayuan Xu, Eric Verner, Ross Kelly, Sanjeev Jain, Rose Dawn Bharath, Gareth J Barker, Debasish Basu, Amit Chakrabarti, Kartik Kalyanram, Kalyanaraman Kumaran, Lenin Singh, Rebecca Kuriyan, Pratima Murthy, Vivek Benega, Sergey M Plis, Anand D Sarwate, Jessica A TurnerGunter Schumann, Vince D Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


There has been an upward trend in developing frameworks that enable neuroimaging researchers to address challenging questions by leveraging data across multiple sites all over the world. One such open-source framework is the Collaborative Informatics and Neuroimaging Suite Toolkit for Anonymous Computation (COINSTAC) that works on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems and leverages containerized analysis pipelines to analyze neuroimaging data stored locally across multiple physical locations without the need for pooling the data at any point during the analysis. In this paper, the COINSTAC team partnered with a data collection consortium to implement the first-ever decentralized voxelwise analysis of brain imaging data performed outside the COINSTAC development group. Decentralized voxel-based morphometry analysis of over 2000 structural magnetic resonance imaging data sets collected at 14 different sites across two cohorts and co-located in different countries was performed to study the structural changes in brain gray matter which linked to age, body mass index (BMI), and smoking. Results produced by the decentralized analysis were consistent with and extended previous findings in the literature. In particular, a widespread cortical gray matter reduction (resembling a 'default mode network' pattern) and hippocampal increase with age, bilateral increases in the hypothalamus and basal ganglia with BMI, and cingulate and thalamic decreases with smoking. This work provides a critical real-world test of the COINSTAC framework in a "Large-N" study. It showcases the potential benefits of performing multivoxel and multivariate analyses of large-scale neuroimaging data located at multiple sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-566
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


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