Previous work indicates that resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is sensitive to functional brain changes related to Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology across the clinical spectrum. Cross-sectional studies have found functional connectivity differences in the brain's default mode network in aging, mild cognitive impairment, and AD. In addition, two recent longitudinal studies have shown that functional connectivity changes track AD progression. This earlier work suggests that resting-state fMRI may be a promising biomarker for AD. However, some key issues still need to be addressed before resting-state fMRI can be successfully applied clinically. In a previous issue of Alzheimer's Research & Therapy, Vemuri and colleagues discuss the use of resting-state fMRI in the study of AD. In this commentary, I will highlight and expand upon some of their main conclusions.
During resting conditions the brain remains functionally and metabolically active. One manifestation of this activity that has become an important research tool is spontaneous fluctuations in the blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The identification of correlation patterns in these spontaneous fluctuations has been termed resting state functional connectivity (fcMRI) and has the potential to greatly increase the translation of fMRI into clinical care. In this article we review the advantages of the resting state signal for clinical applications including detailed discussion of signal to noise considerations. We include guidelines for performing resting state research on clinical populations, outline the different areas for clinical application, and identify important barriers to be addressed to facilitate the translation of resting state fcMRI into the clinical realm.
fMRI; fcMRI; neurological disease; psychiatric disease; brain; spontaneous activity; intrinsic activity
Brain regions which exhibit temporally coherent fluctuations, have been increasingly studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Such networks are often identified in the context of an fMRI scan collected during rest (and thus are called “resting state networks”); however, they are also present during (and modulated by) the performance of a cognitive task. In this article, we will refer to such networks as temporally coherent networks (TCNs). Although there is still some debate over the physiological source of these fluctuations, TCNs are being studied in a variety of ways. Recent studies have examined ways TCNs can be used to identify patterns associated with various brain disorders (e.g. schizophrenia, autism or Alzheimer’s disease). Independent component analysis (ICA) is one method being used to identify TCNs. ICA is a data driven approach which is especially useful for decomposing activation during complex cognitive tasks where multiple operations occur simultaneously. In this article we review recent TCN studies with emphasis on those that use ICA. We also present new results showing that TCNs are robust, and can be consistently identified at rest and during performance of a cognitive task in healthy individuals and in patients with schizophrenia. In addition, multiple TCNs show temporal and spatial modulation during the cognitive task versus rest. In summary, TCNs show considerable promise as potential imaging biological markers of brain diseases, though each network needs to be studied in more detail.
fMRI; auditory oddball; independent component analysis; P3; schizophrenia
The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is predicted to increase rapidly in the coming decade, highlighting the importance of early detection and intervention in patients with AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Recently, remarkable advances have been made in the application of neuroimaging techniques in investigations of AD and MCI. Among the various neuroimaging techniques, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has many potential advantages, noninvasively detecting alterations in brain function that may be present very early in the course of AD and MCI. In this paper, we first review task-related and resting-state fMRI studies on AD and MCI. We then present our recent fMRI studies with additional event-related potential (ERP) experiments during a motion perception task in MCI. Our results indicate that fMRI, especially when combined with ERP recording, can be useful for detecting spatiotemporal functional changes in AD and MCI patients.
Knowledge about the intrinsic functional architecture of the human brain has been greatly expanded by the extensive use of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). However, the neurophysiological correlates and origins of spontaneous fMRI signal changes remain poorly understood. In the present study, we characterized the power modulations of spontaneous magnetoencephalography (MEG) rhythms recorded from human subjects during wakeful rest (with eyes open and eyes closed) and light sleep. Through spectral, correlation and coherence analyses, we found that resting-state MEG rhythms demonstrated ultraslow (<0.1 Hz) spontaneous power modulations that synchronized over a large spatial distance, especially between bilaterally homologous regions in opposite hemispheres. These observations are in line with the known spatio-temporal properties of spontaneous fMRI signals, and further suggest that the coherent power modulation of spontaneous rhythmic activity reflects the electrophysiological signature of the large-scale functional networks previously observed with fMRI in the resting brain.
Functional Connectivity; Resting State; Magnetoencephalography; Band-limited Power; Correlation; Coherence
Blood oxygen contrast-functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals are a convolution of neural and vascular components. Several studies indicate that task-related (T-fMRI) or resting-state (R-fMRI) responses linearly relate to hypercapnic task responses. Based on the linearity of R-fMRI and T-fMRI with hypercapnia demonstrated by different groups using different study designs, we hypothesized that R-fMRI and T-fMRI signals are governed by a common physiological mechanism and that resting-state fluctuation of amplitude (RSFA) should be linearly related to T-fMRI responses. We tested this prediction in a group of healthy younger humans where R-fMRI, T-fMRI, and hypercapnic (breath hold, BH) task measures were obtained form the same scan session during resting state and during performance of motor and BH tasks. Within individual subjects, significant linear correlations were observed between motor and BH task responses across voxels. When averaged over the whole brain, the subject-wise correlation between the motor and BH tasks showed a similar linear relationship within the group. Likewise, a significant linear correlation was observed between motor-task activity and RSFA across voxels and subjects. The linear rest–task (R–T) relationship between motor activity and RSFA suggested that R-fMRI and T-fMRI responses are governed by similar physiological mechanisms. A practical use of the R–T relationship is its potential to estimate T-fMRI responses in special populations unable to perform tasks during fMRI scanning. Using the R–T relationship determined from the first group of 12 healthy subjects, we predicted the T-fMRI responses in a second group of 7 healthy subjects. RSFA in both the lower and higher frequency ranges robustly predicted the magnitude of T-fMRI responses at the subject and voxel levels. We propose that T-fMRI responses are reliably predictable to the voxel level in situations where only R-fMRI measures are possible, and may be useful for assessing neural activity in task non-compliant clinical populations.
breath hold; resting-state fluctuations; BOLD; fMRI; hypercapnia; motor cortex; prediction; vascular
The inflammatory response has been associated with the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The purpose of this study is to determine whether the rs1143627 polymorphism of the interleukin-1 beta (IL-1β) gene moderates functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-measured brain regional activity in amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI).
Eighty older participants (47 with aMCI and 33 healthy controls) were recruited for this study. All of the participants were genotyped for variant rs1143627 in the IL1B gene and were scanned using resting-state fMRI. Brain activity was assessed by amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF).
aMCI patients had abnormal ALFF in many brain regions, including decreases in the inferior frontal gyrus, the superior temporal lobe and the middle temporal lobe, and increases in the occipital cortex (calcarine), parietal cortex (Pcu) and cerebellar cortex. The regions associated with an interaction of group X genotypes of rs1143627 C/T were the parietal cortex (left Pcu), frontal cortex (left superior, middle, and medial gyrus, right anterior cingulum), occipital cortex (left middle lobe, left cuneus) and the bilateral posterior lobes of the cerebellum. Regarding the behavioral significance, there were significant correlations between ALFF in different regions of the brain and with the cognitive scores of each genotype group.
The present study provided evidence that aMCI patients had abnormal ALFF in many brain regions. Specifically, the rs1143627 C/T polymorphism of the IL1B gene may modulate regional spontaneous brain activity in aMCI patients.
Amnestic mild cognitive impairment; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation; Interleukin-1 beta; Cognition
Participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have a higher likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) compared to those without MCI, and functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging (fMRI) used with MCI participants may prove to be an important tool in identifying early biomarkers for AD. We tested the hypothesis that functional connectivity differences exist between older adults with and without MCI using resting-state fMRI. Data were collected on over 200 participants of the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a community-based, clinical-pathological cohort study of aging. From the cohort, 40 participants were identified as having MCI, and were compared to 40 demographically matched participants without cognitive impairment. MCI participants showed lesser functional connectivity between the posterior cingulate cortex and right and left orbital frontal, right middle frontal, left putamen, right caudate, left superior temporal, and right posterior cingulate regions; and greater connectivity with right inferior frontal, left fusiform, left rectal, and left precentral regions. Furthermore, in an alternate sample of 113, connectivity values in regions of difference correlated with episodic memory and processing speed. Results suggest functional connectivity values in regions of difference are associated with cognitive function and may reflect the presence of AD pathology and increased risk of developing clinical AD.
Mild cognitive impairment (MCI); Resting-state fMRI; Functional connectivity; Posterior cingulate cortex; Memory; Basal ganglia; Striatum
Background and Purpose
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies could provide crucial information on the neural mechanisms of motor recovery in stroke patients. Resting-state fMRI is applicable to stroke patients who are not capable of proper performance of the motor task. In this study, we explored neural correlates of motor recovery in stroke patients by investigating longitudinal changes in resting-state functional connectivity of the ipsilesional primary motor cortex (M1).
A longitudinal observational study using repeated fMRI experiments was conducted in 12 patients with stroke. Resting-state fMRI data were acquired four times over a period of 6 months. Patients participated in the first session of fMRI shortly after onset, and thereafter in subsequent sessions at 1, 3, and 6 months after onset. Resting-state functional connectivity of the ipsilesional M1 was assessed and compared with that of healthy subjects.
Compared with healthy subjects, patients demonstrated higher functional connectivity with the ipsilesional frontal and parietal cortices, bilateral thalamus, and cerebellum. Instead, functional connectivity with the contralesional M1 and occipital cortex were decreased in stroke patients. Functional connectivity between the ipsilesional and contralesional M1 showed the most asymmetry at 1 month after onset to the ipsilesional side. Functional connectivity of the ipsilesional M1 with the contralesional thalamus, supplementary motor area, and middle frontal gyrus at onset was positively correlated with motor recovery at 6 months after stroke.
Resting-state fMRI elicited distinctive but comparable results with previous task-based fMRI, presenting complementary and practical values for use in the study of stroke patients.
Resting-state fMRI; Stroke; Motor recovery; Functional connectivity
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has provided a novel approach for examining interhemispheric interaction, demonstrating a high degree of functional connectivity between homotopic regions in opposite hemispheres. However, heterotopic resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) remains relatively uncharacterized. In the present study, we examine non-homotopic regions, characterizing heterotopic RSFC and comparing it to intrahemispheric RSFC, to examine the impact of hemispheric separation on the integration and segregation of processing in the brain. Resting-state fMRI scans were acquired from 59 healthy participants to examine interregional correlations in spontaneous low frequency fluctuations in BOLD signal. Using a probabilistic atlas, we correlated probability-weighted time series from 112 regions (56 per hemisphere) distributed throughout the entire cerebrum. We compared RSFC for pairings of non-homologous regions located in different hemispheres (heterotopic connectivity) to RSFC for the same pairings when located within hemisphere (intrahemispheric connectivity). For positive connections, connectivity strength was greater within each hemisphere, consistent with integrated intrahemispheric processing. However, for negative connections, RSFC strength was greater between the hemispheres, consistent with segregated interhemispheric processing. These patterns were particularly notable for connections involving frontal and heteromodal regions. The distribution of positive and negative connectivity was nearly identical within and between the hemispheres, though we demonstrated detailed regional variation in distribution. We discuss implications for leading models of interhemispheric interaction. The future application of our analyses may provide important insight into impaired interhemispheric processing in clinical and aging populations.
Although developmental stuttering has been extensively studied with structural and task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), few studies have focused on resting-state brain activity in this disorder. We investigated resting-state brain activity of stuttering subjects by analyzing the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF), region of interest (ROI)-based functional connectivity (FC) and independent component analysis (ICA)-based FC. Forty-four adult males with developmental stuttering and 46 age-matched fluent male controls were scanned using resting-state fMRI. ALFF, ROI-based FCs and ICA-based FCs were compared between male stuttering subjects and fluent controls in a voxel-wise manner. Compared with fluent controls, stuttering subjects showed increased ALFF in left brain areas related to speech motor and auditory functions and bilateral prefrontal cortices related to cognitive control. However, stuttering subjects showed decreased ALFF in the left posterior language reception area and bilateral non-speech motor areas. ROI-based FC analysis revealed decreased FC between the posterior language area involved in the perception and decoding of sensory information and anterior brain area involved in the initiation of speech motor function, as well as increased FC within anterior or posterior speech- and language-associated areas and between the prefrontal areas and default-mode network (DMN) in stuttering subjects. ICA showed that stuttering subjects had decreased FC in the DMN and increased FC in the sensorimotor network. Our findings support the concept that stuttering subjects have deficits in multiple functional systems (motor, language, auditory and DMN) and in the connections between them.
Recording of slow spontaneous fluctuations at rest using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows distinct long-range cortical networks to be identified. The neuronal basis of connectivity as assessed by resting-state fMRI still needs to be fully clarified, considering that these signals are an indirect measure of neuronal activity, reflecting slow local variations in de-oxyhaemoglobin concentration. Here, we combined fMRI with multifocal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique that allows the investigation of the causal neurophysiological interactions occurring in specific cortico-cortical connections. We investigated whether the physiological properties of parieto-frontal circuits mapped with short-latency multifocal TMS at rest may have some relationship with the resting-state fMRI measures of specific resting-state functional networks (RSNs). Results showed that the activity of fast cortico-cortical physiological interactions occurring in the millisecond range correlated selectively with the coupling of fMRI slow oscillations within the same cortical areas that form part of the dorsal attention network, i.e., the attention system believed to be involved in reorientation of attention. We conclude that resting-state fMRI ongoing slow fluctuations likely reflect the interaction of underlying physiological cortico-cortical connections.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Connectivity mapping based on resting-state fMRI is rapidly developing and this methodology has great potential for clinical applications. However, before resting-state fMRI can be applied for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring treatment for an individual patient with neurologic or psychiatric diseases, it is essential to assess its long-term reproducibility and between-subject variations among healthy individuals. The purpose of the study is to (1) quantify the long-term test-retest reproducibility of intrinsic connectivity network (ICN) measures derived from resting-state fMRI, and (2) assess the between-subject variation of ICN measures across the whole brain.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Longitudinal resting-state fMRI data of six healthy volunteers were acquired from nine scan sessions over a period of more than one year. The within-subject reproducibility and between-subject variation of ICN measures, across 1) the whole brain and 2) major nodes of the default mode network, were quantified with intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and coefficient of variance (COV).
Our data show that the long-term test-retest reproducibility of ICN measures is outstanding, with over 70% of the connectivity networks showing an ICC greater than 0.60. COV across six healthy volunteers in this sample was greater than 0.2, suggesting significant between-subject variation.
Our data indicate that resting-state ICN measures (e.g., the correlation coefficients between fMRI signal profiles from two different brain regions) are potentially suitable as biomarkers for monitoring disease progression and treatment effects in clinical trials and individual patients. Because between-subject variation is significant, it may be difficult to use quantitative ICN measures, in their current state, as a diagnostic tool.
We aim to clarify the mechanisms of acupuncture in treating mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD) by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Thirty-six right-handed subjects (8 MCI patients, 14 AD patients, and 14 healthy elders) participated in this study. Clinical and neuropsychological examinations were performed on all the subjects. MRI data acquisition was performed on a SIEMENS verio 3-Tesla scanner. The fMRI study used a single block experimental design. We first acquired the baseline resting state data in the initial 3 minutes; we then acquired the fMRI data during the procession of acupuncture stimulation on the acupoints of Tai chong and Hegu for the following 3 minutes. Last, we acquired fMRI data for another 10 minutes after the needle was withdrawn. The preprocessing and data analysis were performed using the statistical parametric mapping (SPM8) software. Then the two-sample t-tests were performed between each two groups of different states. We found that during the resting state, brain activities in AD and MCI patients were different from those of control subjects. During the acupuncture and the second resting state after acupuncture, when comparing to resting state, there are several regions showing increased or decreased activities in MCI, AD subjects compared to normal subjects. Most of the regions were involved in the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe, which were closely related to the memory and cognition. In conclusion, we investigated the effect of acupuncture in AD and MCI patients by combing fMRI and traditional acupuncture. Our fMRI study confirmed that acupuncture at Tai chong (Liv3) and He gu (LI4) can activate certain cognitive-related regions in AD and MCI patients.
Whether functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows the identification of neural drivers remains an open question of particular importance to refine physiological and neuropsychological models of the brain, and/or to understand neurophysiopathology. Here, in a rat model of absence epilepsy showing spontaneous spike-and-wave discharges originating from the first somatosensory cortex (S1BF), we performed simultaneous electroencephalographic (EEG) and fMRI measurements, and subsequent intracerebral EEG (iEEG) recordings in regions strongly activated in fMRI (S1BF, thalamus, and striatum). fMRI connectivity was determined from fMRI time series directly and from hidden state variables using a measure of Granger causality and Dynamic Causal Modelling that relates synaptic activity to fMRI. fMRI connectivity was compared to directed functional coupling estimated from iEEG using asymmetry in generalised synchronisation metrics. The neural driver of spike-and-wave discharges was estimated in S1BF from iEEG, and from fMRI only when hemodynamic effects were explicitly removed. Functional connectivity analysis applied directly on fMRI signals failed because hemodynamics varied between regions, rendering temporal precedence irrelevant. This paper provides the first experimental substantiation of the theoretical possibility to improve interregional coupling estimation from hidden neural states of fMRI. As such, it has important implications for future studies on brain connectivity using functional neuroimaging.
Our understanding of how the brain works relies on the development of neuropsychological models, which describe how brain activity is coordinated among different regions during the execution of a given task. Knowing the directionality of information transfer between connected regions, and in particular distinguishing neural drivers, or the source of forward connections in the brain, from other brain regions, is critical to refine models of the brain. However, whether functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the most common technique for imaging brain function, allows one to identify neural drivers remains an open question. Here, we used a rat model of absence epilepsy, a form of nonconvulsive epilepsy that occurs during childhood in humans, showing spontaneous spike-and-wave discharges (nonconvulsive seizures) originating from the first somatosensory cortex, to validate several functional connectivity measures derived from fMRI. Standard techniques estimating interactions directly from fMRI data failed because blood flow dynamics varied between regions. However, we were able to identify the neural driver of spike-and-wave discharges when hemodynamic effects were explicitly removed using appropriate modelling. This study thus provides the first experimental substantiation of the theoretical possibility to improve interregional coupling estimation from hidden neural states of fMRI. As such, it has important implications for future studies on connectivity in the functional neuroimaging literature.
Neural long-range interactions can be distinguished from hemodynamic confounds in functional magnetic resonance imaging using new data analysis techniques that will allow experimental validation of models of brain function.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of studies using resting state fMRI, a recent addition to imaging analysis techniques. The technique analyzes ongoing low frequency fluctuations in the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal. Through patterns of spatial coherence, these fluctuations can be used to identify the networks within the brain. Multiple brain networks are present simultaneously and the relationships within and between networks are in constant dynamic flux. Resting state fMRI functional connectivity (rs-fMRI) analysis is increasingly used to detect subtle brain network differences, and in the case of pathophysiology, subtle abnormalities in illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The sequence of events leading up to dementia has been hypothesized to begin many years or decades before any clinical symptoms occur. Here we review the findings across rs-fMRI studies in the spectrum of preclinical AD to clinical AD. In addition, we discuss evidence for underlying preclinical AD mechanisms, including an important relationship between resting state functional connectivity and brain metabolism, and how this results in a distinctive pattern of amyloid plaque deposition in default mode network regions.
fMRI; BOLD; amyloid; precuneus; default mode network (DMN); glycolysis
Inferring resting-state connectivity patterns from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data is a challenging task for any analytical technique. In this paper, we review a probabilistic independent component analysis (PICA) approach, optimized for the analysis of fMRI data, and discuss the role which this exploratory technique can take in scientific investigations into the structure of these effects. We apply PICA to fMRI data acquired at rest, in order to characterize the spatio-temporal structure of such data, and demonstrate that this is an effective and robust tool for the identification of low-frequency resting-state patterns from data acquired at various different spatial and temporal resolutions. We show that these networks exhibit high spatial consistency across subjects and closely resemble discrete cortical functional networks such as visual cortical areas or sensory–motor cortex.
functional magnetic resonance imaging; brain connectivity; resting-state fluctuations; independent component analysis
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has attracted more and more attention because of its effectiveness, simplicity and non-invasiveness in exploration of the intrinsic functional architecture of the human brain. However, user-friendly toolbox for “pipeline” data analysis of resting-state fMRI is still lacking. Based on some functions in Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM) and Resting-State fMRI Data Analysis Toolkit (REST), we have developed a MATLAB toolbox called Data Processing Assistant for Resting-State fMRI (DPARSF) for “pipeline” data analysis of resting-state fMRI. After the user arranges the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) files and click a few buttons to set parameters, DPARSF will then give all the preprocessed (slice timing, realign, normalize, smooth) data and results for functional connectivity, regional homogeneity, amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF), and fractional ALFF. DPARSF can also create a report for excluding subjects with excessive head motion and generate a set of pictures for easily checking the effect of normalization. In addition, users can also use DPARSF to extract time courses from regions of interest.
data analysis; DPARSF; REST; resting-state fMRI; SPM
Responses to stress vary greatly in young adolescents, and little is known about neural correlates of the stress response in youth. The purpose of this study was to examine whether variability in cortisol responsivity following a social stress test in young adolescents is associated with altered neural functional connectivity (FC) of the salience network (SN) measured during resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Forty-nine typically developing young adolescents participated in a social stress test during which they contributed salivary cortisol samples. Following this, they underwent resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) scanning. We examined the association of FC of the SN (composed of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and bilateral anterior insula regions) with cortisol responsivity.
Greater cortisol responsivity was significantly positively correlated with higher FC between subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (Cg25) and the SN, controlling for participant age. There were no regions of the brain that showed an inverse relation.
Brain systems that have been implicated in autonomic arousal and that influence subjective feeling states show altered FC associated with stress responsivity in early life.
resting-state; adolescents; HPA-axis; stress; subgenual cingulate; fMRI; salience network; connectivity
Resting state functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) has become a particularly useful tool for studying regional relationships in typical and atypical populations. Because many investigators have already obtained large datasets of task related fMRI, the ability to use this existing task data for resting state fcMRI is of considerable interest. Two classes of datasets could potentially be modified to emulate resting state data. These datasets include: 1) “interleaved” resting blocks from blocked or mixed blocked/event-related sets, and 2) residual timecourses from event-related sets that lack rest blocks. Using correlation analysis, we compared the functional connectivity of resting epochs taken from a mixed blocked/event-related design fMRI data set and the residuals derived from event-related data with standard continuous resting state data to determine which class of data can best emulate resting state data. We show that despite some differences, the functional connectivity for the interleaved resting periods taken from blocked designs is both qualitatively and quantitatively very similar to that of “continuous” resting state data. In contrast, despite being qualitatively similar to “continuous” resting state data, residuals derived from event-related design data had several distinct quantitative differences. These results suggest that the interleaved resting state data such as those taken from blocked or mixed blocked/event-related fMRI designs are well-suited for resting state functional connectivity analyses. Although using event-related data residuals for resting state functional connectivity may still be useful, results should be interpreted with care.
Heart rate fluctuations occur in the low frequency region (< 0.1 Hz) probed in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of resting-state functional connectivity and most fMRI block paradigms, and may be related to low frequency blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal fluctuations. To investigate this hypothesis, temporal correlations between cardiac rate and resting-state fMRI signal timecourses were assessed at 3 Tesla. Resting-state BOLD fMRI and accompanying physiological data were acquired and analyzed using cross-correlation and regression. Time-shifted cardiac rate timecourses were included as regressors in addition to established physiological regressors (RETROICOR (Glover et al., 2000) and respiration volume per unit time (Birn et al., 2006b)). Significant correlations between the cardiac rate and BOLD signal timecourses were revealed, particularly negative correlations in gray matter at time-shifts of 6-12 seconds and positive correlations at time shifts of 30-42 seconds (TR = 6 s). Regressors consisting of cardiac rate timecourses shifted by delays of between 0 and 24 seconds explained an additional 1 % of the BOLD signal variance on average over the whole brain across 9 subjects, a similar additional variance to that explained by respiration volume per unit time and RETROICOR regressors, even when used in combination with these other physiological regressors. This suggests that including such time-shifted cardiac rate regressors will be beneficial for explaining physiological noise variance and will thereby improve the statistical power in future task-based and resting-state fMRI studies.
Amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is a syndrome associated with faster memory decline than normal aging, and frequently represents the prodromal phase of Alzheimer’s disease. When a person is not actively engaged in a goal-directed task, spontaneous functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) signals can reveal functionally connected brain networks, including the so-called default mode network (DMN). To date, only a few studies have investigated DMN functions in aMCI populations. In this study, group independent component analysis was conducted for resting-state fMRI data, with slices acquired perpendicular to the long axis of the hippocampus, from eight subjects with aMCI and eight normal control subjects. Subjects with aMCI showed increased DMN activity in middle cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and left inferior parietal cortex compared to the normal control group. Decreased DMN activity for the aMCI group compared to the normal control group was noted in lateral prefrontal cortex, left medial temporal lobe (MTL), left medial temporal gyrus, posterior cingulate cortex/retrosplenial cortex/precuneus, and right angular gyrus. Although MTL volume difference between the two groups was not statistical significant, decreased activity in left MTL was observed for the aMCI group. Positive correlations between DMN activity and memory scores were noted for left lateral prefrontal cortex, left medial temporal gyrus, and right angular gyrus. These findings support the premise that alterations of the DMN occur in aMCI and may indicate deficiencies in functional, intrinsic brain architecture, that correlate with memory function, even before significant medial temporal lobe atrophy is detectable by structural MRI.
default mode network (DMN); amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI); resting-state fMRI; medial temporal lobe (MTL)
Local network connectivity disruptions in Alzheimer's disease patients have been found using graph analysis in BOLD fMRI. Other studies using MEG and cortical thickness measures, however, show more global long distance connectivity changes, both in functional and structural imaging data. The form and role of functional connectivity changes thus remains ambiguous. The current study shows more conclusive data on connectivity changes in early AD using graph analysis on resting-state condition fMRI data.
18 mild AD patients and 21 healthy age-matched control subjects without memory complaints were investigated in resting-state condition with MRI at 1.5 Tesla. Functional coupling between brain regions was calculated on the basis of pair-wise synchronizations between regional time-series. Local (cluster coefficient) and global (path length) network measures were quantitatively defined. Compared to controls, the characteristic path length of AD functional networks is closer to the theoretical values of random networks, while no significant differences were found in cluster coefficient. The whole-brain average synchronization does not differ between Alzheimer and healthy control groups. Post-hoc analysis of the regional synchronization reveals increased AD synchronization involving the frontal cortices and generalized decreases located at the parietal and occipital regions. This effectively translates in a global reduction of functional long-distance links between frontal and caudal brain regions.
We present evidence of AD-induced changes in global brain functional connectivity specifically affecting long-distance connectivity. This finding is highly relevant for it supports the anterior-posterior disconnection theory and its role in AD. Our results can be interpreted as reflecting the randomization of the brain functional networks in AD, further suggesting a loss of global information integration in disease.
Functional brain networks detected in task-free (“resting-state”) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have a small-world architecture that reflects a robust functional organization of the brain. Here, we examined whether this functional organization is disrupted in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Task-free fMRI data from 21 AD subjects and 18 age-matched controls were obtained. Wavelet analysis was applied to the fMRI data to compute frequency-dependent correlation matrices. Correlation matrices were thresholded to create 90-node undirected-graphs of functional brain networks. Small-world metrics (characteristic path length and clustering coefficient) were computed using graph analytical methods. In the low frequency interval 0.01 to 0.05 Hz, functional brain networks in controls showed small-world organization of brain activity, characterized by a high clustering coefficient and a low characteristic path length. In contrast, functional brain networks in AD showed loss of small-world properties, characterized by a significantly lower clustering coefficient (p<0.01), indicative of disrupted local connectivity. Clustering coefficients for the left and right hippocampus were significantly lower (p<0.01) in the AD group compared to the control group. Furthermore, the clustering coefficient distinguished AD participants from the controls with a sensitivity of 72% and specificity of 78%. Our study provides new evidence that there is disrupted organization of functional brain networks in AD. Small-world metrics can characterize the functional organization of the brain in AD, and our findings further suggest that these network measures may be useful as an imaging-based biomarker to distinguish AD from healthy aging.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a brain disorder characterized by progressive impairment of episodic memory and other cognitive domains resulting in dementia and, ultimately, death. Functional neuroimaging studies have identified brain regions that show abnormal brain function in AD. Although there is converging evidence about the identity of these regions, it is not clear how this abnormality affects the functional organization of the whole brain. In order to characterize the functional organization of the brain, our approach uses small-world measures, which have also been used to study systems such as social networks and the internet. We use graph analytical methods to compute these measures of functional connectivity brain networks, which are derived from fMRI data obtained from healthy elderly controls and AD patients. The AD patients had significantly lower regional connectivity, and showed disrupted global functional organization, when compared to healthy controls. Moreover, our results indicate that cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients is associated with disrupted functional connectivity in the entire brain. Our findings further suggest that small-world measures may be useful as an imaging-based biomarker to distinguish AD from healthy aging.
In order to better understand the functional contribution of resting state activity to conscious cognition, we aimed to review increases and decreases in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) functional connectivity under physiological (sleep), pharmacological (anesthesia), and pathological altered states of consciousness, such as brain death, coma, vegetative state/unresponsive wakefulness syndrome, and minimally conscious state. The reviewed resting state networks were the DMN, left and right executive control, salience, sensorimotor, auditory, and visual networks. We highlight some methodological issues concerning resting state analyses in severely injured brains mainly in terms of hypothesis-driven seed-based correlation analysis and data-driven independent components analysis approaches. Finally, we attempt to contextualize our discussion within theoretical frameworks of conscious processes. We think that this “lesion” approach allows us to better determine the necessary conditions under which normal conscious cognition takes place. At the clinical level, we acknowledge the technical merits of the resting state paradigm. Indeed, fast and easy acquisitions are preferable to activation paradigms in clinical populations. Finally, we emphasize the need to validate the diagnostic and prognostic value of fMRI resting state measurements in non-communicating brain damaged patients.
default mode network; resting state networks; consciousness; sleep; anesthesia; coma; hypnosis