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Task-related edge density (TED) - a new method for revealing large-scale network formation in fMRI data of the human brain

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      Abstract

      The formation of transient networks in response to external stimuli or as a reflection of internal cognitive processes is a hallmark of human brain function. However, its identification in fMRI data of the human brain is notoriously difficult. Here we propose a new method of fMRI data analysis that tackles this problem by considering large-scale, task-related synchronisation networks. Networks consist of nodes and edges connecting them, where nodes correspond to voxels in fMRI data, and the weight of an edge is determined via task-related changes in dynamic synchronisation between their respective times series. Based on these definitions, we developed a new data analysis algorithm that identifies edges in a brain network that differentially respond in unison to a task onset and that occur in dense packs with similar characteristics. Hence, we call this approach "Task-related Edge Density" (TED). TED proved to be a very strong marker for dynamic network formation that easily lends itself to statistical analysis using large scale statistical inference. A major advantage of TED compared to other methods is that it does not depend on any specific hemodynamic response model, and it also does not require a presegmentation of the data for dimensionality reduction as it can handle large networks consisting of tens of thousands of voxels. We applied TED to fMRI data of a fingertapping task provided by the Human Connectome Project. TED revealed network-based involvement of a large number of brain areas that evaded detection using traditional GLM-based analysis. We show that our proposed method provides an entirely new window into the immense complexity of human brain function.

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      Networks of coupled dynamical systems have been used to model biological oscillators, Josephson junction arrays, excitable media, neural networks, spatial games, genetic control networks and many other self-organizing systems. Ordinarily, the connection topology is assumed to be either completely regular or completely random. But many biological, technological and social networks lie somewhere between these two extremes. Here we explore simple models of networks that can be tuned through this middle ground: regular networks 'rewired' to introduce increasing amounts of disorder. We find that these systems can be highly clustered, like regular lattices, yet have small characteristic path lengths, like random graphs. We call them 'small-world' networks, by analogy with the small-world phenomenon (popularly known as six degrees of separation. The neural network of the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, the power grid of the western United States, and the collaboration graph of film actors are shown to be small-world networks. Models of dynamical systems with small-world coupling display enhanced signal-propagation speed, computational power, and synchronizability. In particular, infectious diseases spread more easily in small-world networks than in regular lattices.
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        Functional connectivity in the motor cortex of resting human brain using echo-planar MRI.

        An MRI time course of 512 echo-planar images (EPI) in resting human brain obtained every 250 ms reveals fluctuations in signal intensity in each pixel that have a physiologic origin. Regions of the sensorimotor cortex that were activated secondary to hand movement were identified using functional MRI methodology (FMRI). Time courses of low frequency (< 0.1 Hz) fluctuations in resting brain were observed to have a high degree of temporal correlation (P < 10(-3)) within these regions and also with time courses in several other regions that can be associated with motor function. It is concluded that correlation of low frequency fluctuations, which may arise from fluctuations in blood oxygenation or flow, is a manifestation of functional connectivity of the brain.
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          Spurious but systematic correlations in functional connectivity MRI networks arise from subject motion.

          Here, we demonstrate that subject motion produces substantial changes in the timecourses of resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) data despite compensatory spatial registration and regression of motion estimates from the data. These changes cause systematic but spurious correlation structures throughout the brain. Specifically, many long-distance correlations are decreased by subject motion, whereas many short-distance correlations are increased. These changes in rs-fcMRI correlations do not arise from, nor are they adequately countered by, some common functional connectivity processing steps. Two indices of data quality are proposed, and a simple method to reduce motion-related effects in rs-fcMRI analyses is demonstrated that should be flexibly implementable across a variety of software platforms. We demonstrate how application of this technique impacts our own data, modifying previous conclusions about brain development. These results suggest the need for greater care in dealing with subject motion, and the need to critically revisit previous rs-fcMRI work that may not have adequately controlled for effects of transient subject movements. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            1512.04247

            Neurosciences

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