Estimation of resting-state functional connectivity using random subspace based partial correlation: A novel method for reducing global artifacts

Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305. Electronic address: .
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 06/2013; 82. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.05.118
Source: PubMed


Intrinsic functional connectivity analysis using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) has become a powerful tool for examining brain functional organization. Global artifacts such as physiological noise pose a significant problem in estimation of intrinsic functional connectivity. Here we develop and test a novel random subspace method for functional connectivity (RSMFC) that effectively removes global artifacts in rsfMRI data. RSMFC estimates the partial correlation between a seed region and each target brain voxel using multiple subsets of voxels sampled randomly across the whole brain. We evaluated RSMFC on both simulated and experimental rsfMRI data and compared its performance with standard methods that rely on global mean regression (GSReg) which are widely used to remove global artifacts. Using extensive simulations we demonstrate that RSMFC is effective in removing global artifacts in rsfMRI data. Critically, using a novel simulated dataset we demonstrate that, unlike GSReg, RSMFC does not artificially introduce anti-correlations between inherently uncorrelated networks, a result of paramount importance for reliably estimating functional connectivity. Furthermore, we show that the overall sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of RSMFC are superior to GSReg. Analysis of posterior cingulate cortex connectivity in experimental rsfMRI data from 22 healthy adults revealed strong functional connectivity in the default mode network, including more reliable identification of connectivity with left and right medial temporal lobe regions that were missed by GSReg. Notably, compared to GSReg, negative correlations with lateral fronto-parietal regions were significantly weaker in RSMFC. Our results suggest that RSMFC is an effective method for minimizing the effects of global artifacts and artificial negative correlations, while accurately recovering intrinsic functional brain networks.

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    • "This kind of concern has led to the introduction into the fMRI literature of sparsity methods from statistical signal processing [1] [26] [62] since naive thresholding of partial correlation does not work [71] and has been shown empirically to be inferior [56] [67]. Thus sparsity has been imposed on the partial correlation estimation problem by [15] [20] [23] [45] [48] [68] [69]. Sparse VAR methods have also been used in fMRI by [64]; but this was not taken further to induce sparse partial coherence. "
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