• Overview of fMRI analysis

    30 March 2018

    © Oxford University Press 2001. All rights reserved. This chapter gives an overview of the various analysis steps that are required after a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment has been designed and carried out. The resulting data must be passed through various analysis steps before the experimenter can get answers to questions about experimentally related activations at the individual or multi-subject level. The aim of fMRI analysis is to identify in which voxels' time-series the signal of interest is significantly greater than the noise level. The chapter also provides a brief overview of different approaches to obtaining activation maps, followed by a detailed introduction to analysis via the general linear model - currently the most popular statistical approach - and also various methods of thresholding the resulting statistics maps. It describes briefly the practical and numerical details involved in the analysis of a particular fMRI experiment.

  • ICA-based artefact removal and accelerated fMRI acquisition for improved resting state network imaging

    3 April 2018

    The identification of resting state networks (RSNs) and the quantification of their functional connectivity in resting-state fMRI (rfMRI) are seriously hindered by the presence of artefacts, many of which overlap spatially or spectrally with RSNs. Moreover, recent developments in fMRI acquisition yield data with higher spatial and temporal resolutions, but may increase artefacts both spatially and/or temporally. Hence the correct identification and removal of non-neural fluctuations are crucial, especially in accelerated acquisitions. In this paper we investigate the effectiveness of three data-driven cleaning procedures, compare standard against higher (spatial and temporal) resolution accelerated fMRI acquisitions, and investigate the combined effect of different acquisitions and different cleanup approaches. We applied single-subject independent component analysis (ICA), followed by automatic component classification with FMRIB's ICA-based X-noiseifier (FIX) to identify artefactual components. We then compared two first-level (within-subject) cleaning approaches for removing those artefacts and motion-related fluctuations from the data. The effectiveness of the cleaning procedures was assessed using time series (amplitude and spectra), network matrix and spatial map analyses. For time series and network analyses we also tested the effect of a second-level cleaning (informed by group-level analysis). Comparing these approaches, the preferable balance between noise removal and signal loss was achieved by regressing out the data the full space of motion-related fluctuations and only the unique variance of the artefactual ICA components. Using similar analyses, we also investigated the effects of different cleaning approaches on data from different acquisition sequences. With the optimal cleaning procedures, functional connectivity results from accelerated data were statistically comparable or significantly better than the standard (unaccelerated) acquisition, and, crucially, with higher spatial and temporal resolution. Moreover, we were able to perform higher dimensionality ICA decompositions with the accelerated data, which is very valuable for detailed network analyses.

  • Temporally-independent functional modes of spontaneous brain activity

    3 April 2018

    Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging has become a powerful tool for the study of functional networks in the brain. Even "at rest," the brain's different functional networks spontaneously fluctuate in their activity level; each network's spatial extent can therefore be mapped by finding temporal correlations between its different subregions. Current correlation-based approachesmeasure the average functional connectivity between regions, but this average is less meaningful for regions that are part of multiple networks; one ideally wants a network model that explicitly allows overlap, for example, allowing a region's activity pattern to reflect one network's activity some of the time, and another network's activity at other times. However, even those approaches that do allow overlap have often maximized mutual spatial independence, which may be suboptimal if distinct networks have significant overlap. In this work, we identify functionally distinct networks by virtue of their temporal independence, taking advantage of the additional temporal richness available via improvements in functional magnetic resonance imaging sampling rate. We identify multiple "temporal functional modes," including several that subdivide the default-mode network (and the regions anticorrelated with it) into several functionally distinct, spatially overlapping, networks, each with its own pattern of correlations and anticorrelations. These functionally distinct modes of spontaneous brain activity are, in general, quite different from resting-state networks previously reported, and may have greater biological interpretability.

  • An anatomically comprehensive atlas of the adult human brain transcriptome.

    3 April 2018

    Neuroanatomically precise, genome-wide maps of transcript distributions are critical resources to complement genomic sequence data and to correlate functional and genetic brain architecture. Here we describe the generation and analysis of a transcriptional atlas of the adult human brain, comprising extensive histological analysis and comprehensive microarray profiling of ∼900 neuroanatomically precise subdivisions in two individuals. Transcriptional regulation varies enormously by anatomical location, with different regions and their constituent cell types displaying robust molecular signatures that are highly conserved between individuals. Analysis of differential gene expression and gene co-expression relationships demonstrates that brain-wide variation strongly reflects the distributions of major cell classes such as neurons, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and microglia. Local neighbourhood relationships between fine anatomical subdivisions are associated with discrete neuronal subtypes and genes involved with synaptic transmission. The neocortex displays a relatively homogeneous transcriptional pattern, but with distinct features associated selectively with primary sensorimotor cortices and with enriched frontal lobe expression. Notably, the spatial topography of the neocortex is strongly reflected in its molecular topography-the closer two cortical regions, the more similar their transcriptomes. This freely accessible online data resource forms a high-resolution transcriptional baseline for neurogenetic studies of normal and abnormal human brain function.

  • Genetic control over the resting brain.

    3 April 2018

    The default-mode network, a coherent resting-state brain network, is thought to characterize basal neural activity. Aberrant default-mode connectivity has been reported in a host of neurological and psychiatric illnesses and in persons at genetic risk for such illnesses. Whereas the neurophysiologic mechanisms that regulate default-mode connectivity are unclear, there is growing evidence that genetic factors play a role. In this report, we estimate the importance of genetic effects on the default-mode network by examining covariation patterns in functional connectivity among 333 individuals from 29 randomly selected extended pedigrees. Heritability for default-mode functional connectivity was 0.424 +/- 0.17 (P = 0.0046). Although neuroanatomic variation in this network was also heritable, the genetic factors that influence default-mode functional connectivity and gray-matter density seem to be distinct, suggesting that unique genes influence the structure and function of the network. In contrast, significant genetic correlations between regions within the network provide evidence that the same genetic factors contribute to variation in functional connectivity throughout the default mode. Specifically, the left parahippocampal region was genetically correlated with all other network regions. In addition, the posterior cingulate/precuneus region, medial prefrontal cortex, and right cerebellum seem to form a subnetwork. Default-mode functional connectivity is influenced by genetic factors that cannot be attributed to anatomic variation or a single region within the network. By establishing the heritability of default-mode functional connectivity, this experiment provides the obligatory evidence required before these measures can be considered as endophenotypes for psychiatric or neurological illnesses or to identify genes influencing intrinsic brain function.

  • Accelerating functional MRI using fixed-rank approximations and radial-cartesian sampling.

    3 April 2018

    PURPOSE: Recently, k-t FASTER (fMRI Accelerated in Space-time by means of Truncation of Effective Rank) was introduced for rank-constrained acceleration of fMRI data acquisition. Here we demonstrate improvements achieved through a hybrid three-dimensional radial-Cartesian sampling approach that allows posthoc selection of acceleration factors, as well as incorporation of coil sensitivity encoding in the reconstruction. METHODS: The multicoil rank-constrained reconstruction used hard thresholding and shrinkage on matrix singular values of the space-time data matrix, using sensitivity encoding and the nonuniform Fast Fourier Transform to enforce data consistency in the multicoil non-Cartesian k-t domain. Variable acceleration factors were made possible using a radial increment based on the golden ratio. Both retrospective and prospectively under-sampled data were used to assess the fidelity of the enhancements to the k-t FASTER technique in resting and task-fMRI data. RESULTS: The improved k-t FASTER is capable of tailoring acceleration factors for recovery of different signal components, achieving up to R = 12.5 acceleration in visual-motor task data. The enhancements reduce data matrix reconstruction errors even at much higher acceleration factors when compared directly with the original k-t FASTER approach. CONCLUSION: We have shown that k-t FASTER can be used to significantly accelerate fMRI data acquisition with little penalty to data quality. Magn Reson Med 76:1825-1836, 2016. © 2016 The Authors Magnetic Resonance in Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

  • Resting-state networks

    30 March 2018

  • The danger of systematic bias in group-level FMRI-lag-based causality estimation.

    3 April 2018

    Schippers, Renken and Keysers (NeuroImage, 2011) present a simulation of multi-subject lag-based causality estimation. We fully agree that single-subject evaluations (e.g., Smith et al., 2011) need to be revisited in the context of multi-subject studies, and Schippers' paper is a good example, including detailed multi-level simulation and cross-subject statistical modelling. The authors conclude that "the average chance to find a significant Granger causality effect when no actual influence is present in the data stays well below the p-level imposed on the second level statistics" and that "when the analyses reveal a significant directed influence, this direction was accurate in the vast majority of the cases". Unfortunately, we believe that the general meaning that may be taken from these statements is not supported by the paper's results, as there may in reality be a systematic (group-average) difference in haemodynamic delay between two brain areas. While many statements in the paper (e.g., the final two sentences) do refer to this problem, we fear that the overriding message that many readers may take from the paper could cause misunderstanding.

  • Genetics of microstructure of cerebral white matter using diffusion tensor imaging.

    3 April 2018

    We analyzed the degree of genetic control over intersubject variability in the microstructure of cerebral white matter (WM) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We performed heritability, genetic correlation and quantitative trait loci (QTL) analyses for the whole-brain and 10 major cerebral WM tracts. Average measurements for fractional anisotropy (FA), radial (L( perpendicular)) and axial (L( vertical line)) diffusivities served as quantitative traits. These analyses were done in 467 healthy individuals (182 males/285 females; average age 47.9+/-13.5 years; age range: 19-85 years), recruited from randomly-ascertained pedigrees of extended families. Significant heritability was observed for FA (h(2)=0.52+/-0.11; p=10(-7)) and L( perpendicular) (h(2)=0.37+/-0.14; p=0.001), while L( vertical line) measurements were not significantly heritable (h(2)=0.09+/-0.12; p=0.20). Genetic correlation analysis indicated that the FA and L( perpendicular) shared 46% of the genetic variance. Tract-wise analysis revealed a regionally diverse pattern of genetic control, which was unrelated to ontogenic factors, such as tract-wise age-of-peak FA values and rates of age-related change in FA. QTL analysis indicated linkages for whole-brain average FA (LOD=2.36) at the marker D15S816 on chromosome 15q25, and for L( perpendicular) (LOD=2.24) near the marker D3S1754 on the chromosome 3q27. These sites have been reported to have significant co-inheritance with two psychiatric disorders (major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder) in which patients show characteristic alterations in cerebral WM. Our findings suggest that the microstructure of cerebral white matter is under a strong genetic control and further studies in healthy as well as patients with brain-related illnesses are imperative to identify the genes that may influence cerebral white matter.

  • Regional brain atrophy development is related to specific aspects of clinical dysfunction in multiple sclerosis.

    30 March 2018

    Brain atrophy in multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to reflect irreversible tissue damage leading to persistent clinical deficit. Little is known about the rate of atrophy in specific brain regions in relation to specific clinical deficits. We determined the displacement of the brain surface between two T1-weighted MRI images obtained at baseline and after a median follow-up time of 2.2 years for 79 recently diagnosed, mildly disabled MS patients. Voxel- and cluster-wise permutation-based statistics were used to identify brain regions in which atrophy development was significantly related to Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), Timed Walk Test (TWT), Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) and 9-Hole Peg Test (HPT). Clusters were considered significant at a corrected cluster-wise p-value of 0.05. Worse EDSS change-score and worse follow-up EDSS were related to atrophy development of periventricular and brainstem regions and right-sided parietal, occipital and temporal regions. Worse PASAT at follow-up was significantly related to atrophy of the ventricles. A worse TWT change-score and worse follow-up TWT were exclusively related to atrophy around the ventricles and of the brainstem. Worse HPT change-score and worse follow-up HPT of either arm were significantly related to the atrophy of widely distributed peripheral regions, as well as atrophy of periventricular and brainstem regions. Our findings suggest that decline in ambulatory function is related to atrophy of central brain regions exclusively, whereas decline in neurologically more complex tasks for coordinated hand function is related to atrophy of both central and peripheral brain regions.