A kernel machine method for detecting higher order interactions in multimodal datasets: Application to schizophrenia

Md Ashad Alam, Hui Yi Lin, Hong Wen Deng, Vince D. Calhoun, Yu Ping Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Technological advances are enabling us to collect multimodal datasets at an increasing depth and resolution while with decreasing labors. Understanding complex interactions among multimodal datasets, however, is challenging. New method: In this study, we tested the interaction effect of multimodal datasets using a novel method called the kernel machine for detecting higher order interactions among biologically relevant multimodal data. Using a semiparametric method on a reproducing kernel Hilbert space, we formulated the proposed method as a standard mixed-effects linear model and derived a score-based variance component statistic to test higher order interactions between multimodal datasets. Results: The method was evaluated using extensive numerical simulation and real data from the Mind Clinical Imaging Consortium with both schizophrenia patients and healthy controls. Our method identified 13-triplets that included 6 gene-derived SNPs, 10 ROIs, and 6 gene-specific DNA methylations that are correlated with the changes in hippocampal volume, suggesting that these triplets may be important for explaining schizophrenia-related neurodegeneration. Comparison with existing method(s): The performance of the proposed method is compared with the following methods: test based on only first and first few principal components followed by multiple regression, and full principal component analysis regression, and the sequence kernel association test. Conclusions: With strong evidence (p-value ≤0.000001), the triplet (MAGI2, CRBLCrus1.L, FBXO28) is a significant biomarker for schizophrenia patients. This novel method can be applicable to the study of other disease processes, where multimodal data analysis is a common task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-174
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Higher order interaction
  • Imaging genetics and epigenetics
  • Kernel machine methods
  • Multimodal datasets
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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