What is it about?

Neuroimaging studies of twins and other relatives yield hundreds of thousands of measurements, e.g., of cortical thickness across the surface of the brain. To study development, repeated measures are made across several years. These data are then modeled to provide insights to the genetic and environmental causes of developmental change. On a local computer cluster, the modeling required may take weeks or months. In this article we show that the same results can be obtained in a matter of hours, by using cloud computing.

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Why is it important?

To our knowledge, this was the first article to describe Structural Equation Modeling in the cloud. The increased performance is a game-changer in terms of what can be practically analyzed.


One of the nice things about developing open source software is that you don't have to worry about anyone stealing it. From an engineering perspective, being able to see the code enables far greater quality control and confidence that the program you are using is doing the right thing, and nothing that 'fudges' the results. OpenMx can be deployed for free on any platform, at any scale, for free. It's an honor to be able to serve the scientific community in this way. To highlight new approaches that make analyses practical, when they were previously thought to be computationally infeasible, is also rewarding.

Michael Neale
Virginia Commonwealth University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cloud Computing for Voxel-Wise SEM Analysis of MRI Data, Structural Equation Modeling A Multidisciplinary Journal, October 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/10705511.2018.1521285.
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