Correcting for Blood Arrival Time in Global Mean Regression Enhances Functional Connectivity Analysis of Resting State fMRI-BOLD Signals

Erdogan S. B. , Tong Y., Hocke L. M. , Lindsey K. P. , Frederick B. d.

FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE, vol.10, 2016 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00311


Resting state functional connectivity analysis is a widely used method for mapping intrinsic functional organization of the brain. Global signal regression (GSR) is commonly employed for removing systemic global variance from resting state BOLD-fMRI data: however, recent studies have demonstrated that GSR may introduce spurious negative correlations within and between functional networks, calling into question the meaning of anticorrelations reported between some networks. In the present study, we propose that global signal from resting state fMRI is composed primarily of systemic low frequency oscillations (sLFOs) that propagate with cerebral blood circulation throughout the brain. We introduce a novel systemic noise removal strategy for resting state fMRI data, "dynamic global signal regression" (dGSR), which applies a voxel-specific optimal time delay to the global signal prior to regression from voxel-wise time series. We test our hypothesis on two functional systems that are suggested to be intrinsically organized into anticorrelated networks: the default mode network (DMN) and task positive network (TPN). We evaluate the efficacy of dGSR and compare its performance with the conventional "static" global regression (sGSR) method in terms of (i) explaining systemic variance in the data and (ii) enhancing specificity and sensitivity of functional connectivity measures. dGSR increases the amount of BOLD signal variance being modeled and removed relative to sGSR while reducing spurious negative correlations introduced in reference regions by sGSR, and attenuating inflated positive connectivity measures. We conclude that incorporating time delay information for sLFOs into global noise removal strategies is of crucial importance for optimal noise removal from resting state functional connectivity maps.