Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Estimates of functional connectivity using resting state functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (rs-fMRI) are acutely sensitive to artifacts and large scale nuisance variation. As a result much effort is dedicated to preprocessing rs-fMRI data and using diagnostic measures to identify bad scans. One such diagnostic measure is DVARS, the spatial root mean square of the data after temporal differencing. A limitation of DVARS however is the lack of concrete interpretation of the absolute values of DVARS, and finding a threshold to distinguish bad scans from good. In this work we describe a sum of squares decomposition of the entire 4D dataset that shows DVARS to be just one of three sources of variation we refer to as D-var (closely linked to DVARS), S-var and E-var. D-var and S-var partition the sum of squares at adjacent time points, while E-var accounts for edge effects; each can be used to make spatial and temporal summary diagnostic measures. Extending the partitioning to global (and non-global) signal leads to a rs-fMRI DSE table, which decomposes the total and global variability into fast (D-var), slow (S-var) and edge (E-var) components. We find expected values for each component under nominal models, showing how D-var (and thus DVARS) scales with overall variability and is diminished by temporal autocorrelation. Finally we propose a null sampling distribution for DVARS-squared and robust methods to estimate this null model, allowing computation of DVARS p-values. We propose that these diagnostic time series, images, p-values and DSE table will provide a succinct summary of the quality of a rs-fMRI dataset that will support comparisons of datasets over preprocessing steps and between subjects.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





291 - 312


Oxford Big Data Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7LF, UK; Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK; Institute for Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK. Electronic address:


Brain, Nerve Net, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Artifacts, Brain Mapping, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Datasets as Topic