Hemodynamic variability in soldiers with trauma: Implications for functional MRI connectivity studies.
ABSTRACT: Functional MRI (fMRI) is an indirect measure of neural activity as a result of the convolution of the hemodynamic response function (HRF) and latent (unmeasured) neural activity. Recent studies have shown variability of HRF across brain regions (intra-subject spatial variability) and between subjects (inter-subject variability). Ignoring this HRF variability during data analysis could impair the reliability of such fMRI results. Using whole-brain resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI), we employed hemodynamic deconvolution to estimate voxel-wise HRF. Studying the impact of mental disorders on HRF variability, we identified HRF aberrations in soldiers (N = 87) with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild-traumatic brain injury (mTBI) compared to combat controls. Certain subcortical and default-mode regions were found to have significant HRF aberrations in the clinical groups. These brain regions have been previously associated with neurochemical alterations in PTSD, which are known to impact the shape of the HRF. We followed-up these findings with seed-based functional connectivity (FC) analysis using regions-of-interest (ROIs) whose HRFs differed between the groups. We found that part of the connectivity group differences reported from traditional FC analysis (no deconvolution) were attributable to HRF variability. These findings raise the question of the degree of reliability of findings from conventional rs-fMRI studies (especially in psychiatric populations like PTSD and mTBI), which are corrupted by HRF variability. We also report and discus, for the first time, voxel-level HRF alterations in PTSD and mTBI. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report evidence for the impact of HRF variability on connectivity group differences. Our work has implications for rs-fMRI connectivity studies. We encourage researchers to incorporate hemodynamic deconvolution during pre-processing to minimize the impact of HRF variability.
Project description:Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is an indirect measure of brain activity, i.e. it is a convolution of the latent (unmeasured) neural signal and the hemodynamic response function (HRF). As such, the HRF has been shown to vary across brain regions and individuals. The shape of the HRF is controlled by both neural and non-neural factors. The shape of the HRF can be characterized by three parameters (response height, time-to-peak and full-width at half-max). The data presented here provides the three HRF parameters at every voxel, obtained from U.S. Army soldiers (<i>N</i>=87) diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with comorbid PTSD and mild-traumatic brain injury (mTBI), and matched healthy combat controls. Findings from this data and further interpretations are available in our recent research study (Rangaprakash et al., 2017) . This data is a valuable asset in studying the impact of HRF variability on fMRI data analysis, specifically resting state functional connectivity.
Project description:Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), being an indirect measure of brain activity, is mathematically defined as a convolution of the unmeasured latent neural signal and the hemodynamic response function (HRF). The HRF is known to vary across the brain and across individuals, and it is modulated by neural as well as non-neural factors. Three parameters characterize the shape of the HRF, which is obtained by performing deconvolution on resting-state fMRI data: response height, time-to-peak and full-width at half-max. The data provided here, obtained from 47 healthy adults, contains these three HRF parameters at every voxel in the brain, as well as HRF parameters from the default-mode network (DMN). In addition, we have provided functional connectivity (FC) data from the same DMN regions, obtained for two cases: data with deconvolution (HRF variability minimized) and data with no deconvolution (HRF variability corrupted). This would enable researchers to compare regional changes in HRF with corresponding FC differences, to assess the impact of HRF variability on FC. Importantly, the data was obtained in a 7T MRI scanner. While most fMRI studies are conducted at lower field strengths, like 3T, ours is the first study to report HRF data obtained at 7T. FMRI data at ultra-high fields contains larger contributions from small vessels, consequently HRF variability is lower for small vessels at higher field strengths. This implies that findings made from this data would be more conservative than from data acquired at lower fields, such as 3T. Results obtained with this data and further interpretations are available in our recent research study (Rangaprakash et al., in press) . This is a valuable dataset for studying HRF variability in conjunction with FC, and for developing the HRF profile in healthy individuals, which would have direct implications for fMRI data analysis, especially resting-state connectivity modeling. This is the first public HRF data at 7T.
Project description:Functional MRI (fMRI) is modeled as a convolution of the hemodynamic response function (HRF) and an unmeasured latent neural signal. However, HRF itself is variable across brain regions and subjects. This variability is induced by both neural and non-neural factors. Aberrations in underlying neurochemical mechanisms, which control HRF shape, have been reported in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Therefore, we hypothesized that this will lead to voxel-specific, yet systematic differences in HRF shape between ASD and healthy controls. As a corollary, we also hypothesized that such alterations will lead to differences in estimated functional connectivity in fMRI space compared to latent neural space. To test these hypotheses, we performed blind deconvolution of resting-state fMRI time series acquired from large number of ASD and control subjects obtained from the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange (ABIDE) database (N?=?1102). Many brain regions previously implicated in autism showed systematic differences in HRF shape in ASD. Specifically, we found that precuneus had aberrations in all HRF parameters. Consequently, we obtained precuneus-seed-based functional connectivity differences between ASD and controls using fMRI as well as using latent neural signals. We found that non-deconvolved fMRI data failed to detect group differences in connectivity between precuneus and certain brain regions that were instead observed in deconvolved data. Our results are relevant for the understanding of hemodynamic and neurochemical aberrations in ASD, as well as have methodological implications for resting-state functional connectivity studies in Autism, and more generally in disorders that are accompanied by neurochemical alterations that may impact HRF shape.
Project description:Brain oscillations and synchronicity among brain regions (brain connectivity) have been studied in resting-state (RS) and task-induced settings. RS-connectivity which captures brain functional integration during an unconstrained state is shown to vary with the frequency of oscillations. Indeed, high temporal resolution modalities have demonstrated both between and cross-frequency connectivity spanning across frequency bands such as theta and gamma. Despite high spatial resolution, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suffers from low temporal resolution due to modulation with slow-varying hemodynamic response function (HRF) and also relatively low sampling rate. This limits the range of detectable frequency bands in fMRI and consequently there has been no evidence of cross-frequency dependence in fMRI data. In the present work we uncover recurring patterns of spectral power in network timecourses which provides new insight on the actual nature of frequency variation in fMRI network activations. Moreover, we introduce a new measure of dependence between pairs of rs-fMRI networks which reveals significant cross-frequency dependence between functional brain networks specifically default-mode, cerebellar and visual networks. This is the first strong evidence of cross-frequency dependence between functional networks in fMRI and our subject group analysis based on age and gender supports usefulness of this observation for future clinical applications.
Project description:In Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal is modeled as a convolution of the hemodynamic response function (HRF) and the unmeasured latent neural signal. Although most cortical and subcortical brain regions share the canonical shape of the HRF, the temporal structure of HRFs are variable across brain regions and subjects. This variability is induced by both neural and non-neural factors. The variability between subjects can be examined by three parameters that characterize the HRF: response height (RH), time-to-peak (TTP) and full-width at half-max (FWHM). This data provides three HRF parameters at every voxel, obtained from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) patients (N?=?531), and matched healthy controls (N?=?571). Since ongoing studies suggest that non-standard populations have important differences in their HRFs when compared with healthy control, this data set is valuable in studying variability of HRF in ASD group and inferring the underlying pathology that also affects the HRF. It also has implications for fMRI analyses like resting-sate connectivity analysis.
Project description:Synchrony of brain activity over time describes the functional connectivity between brain regions but does not address the temporal component of this relationship. We propose a complementary method of analysis by introducing the width of cross-correlation curves between functional MRI (fMRI) time series as a metric of the relative duration of synchronous activity between brain regions, or "sustained connectivity". Using resting-state fMRI, cognitive, and demographics data from 1,003 subjects included in the Human Connectome Project, we find that sustained connectivity is a reproducible trait in individuals, heritable, more transient in females, and shows changes with age in early adulthood. Sustained connectivity in sensory brain regions is specifically associated with differences in processing speed across subjects, particularly in men. In contrast, traditional functional connectivity was correlated with a measure of episodic memory, but not with processing speed. Individual differences in hemodynamic response function (HRF) are closely approximated by sustained connectivity and width of the HRF is also correlated with processing speed across individuals, suggesting that variability in hemodynamic response may be influenced by transient versus sustained neural activity rather than simply differences in vascularity and signal transduction. Sustained connectivity may provide new opportunities to study brain dynamics in clinical populations.
Project description:Abstract Although several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have been conducted in human models of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), to date no studies have explicitly examined how injury may differentially affect both the positive phase of the hemodynamic response function (HRF) as well as the post-stimulus undershoot (PSU). Animal models suggest that the acute and semi-acute stages of mTBI are associated with significant disruptions in metabolism and to the microvasculature, both of which could impact on the HRF. Therefore, fMRI data were collected on a cohort of 30 semi-acute patients with mTBI (16 males; 27.83±9.97 years old; 13.00±2.18 years of education) and 30 carefully matched healthy controls (HC; 16 males; 27.17±10.08 years old; 13.37±2.31 years of education) during a simple sensory-motor task. Patients reported increased cognitive, somatic, and emotional symptoms relative to controls, although no group differences were detected on traditional neuropsychological examination. There were also no differences between patients with mTBI and controls on fMRI data using standard analytic techniques, although mTBI exhibited a greater volume of activation during the task qualitatively. A significant Group×Time interaction was observed in the right supramarginal gyrus, bilateral primary and secondary visual cortex, and the right parahippocampal gyrus. The interaction was the result of an earlier time-to-peak and positive magnitude shift throughout the estimated HRF in patients with mTBI relative to HC. This difference in HRF shape combined with the greater volume of activated tissue may be indicative of a potential compensatory mechanism to injury. The current study demonstrates that direct examination and modeling of HRF characteristics beyond magnitude may provide additional information about underlying neuropathology that is not available with more standard fMRI analyses.
Project description:Recent studies have demonstrated significant regional variability in the hemodynamic response function (HRF), highlighting the difficulty of correctly interpreting functional MRI (fMRI) data without proper modeling of the HRF. The focus of this study was to investigate the HRF variability within visual cortex. The HRF was estimated for a number of cortical visual areas by deconvolution of fMRI blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) responses to brief, large-field visual stimulation. Significant HRF variation was found across visual areas V1, V2, V3, V4, VO-1,2, V3AB, IPS-0,1,2,3, LO-1,2, and TO-1,2. Additionally, a subpopulation of voxels was identified that exhibited an impulse response waveform that was similar, but not identical, to an inverted version of the commonly described and modeled positive HRF. These voxels were found within the retinotopic confines of the stimulus and were intermixed with those showing positive responses. The spatial distribution and variability of these HRFs suggest a vascular origin for the inverted waveforms. We suggest that the polarity of the HRF is a separate factor that is independent of the suppressive or activating nature of the underlying neuronal activity. Correctly modeling the polarity of the HRF allows one to recover an estimate of the underlying neuronal activity rather than discard the responses from these voxels on the assumption that they are artifactual. We demonstrate this approach on phase-encoded retinotopic mapping data as an example of the benefits of accurately modeling the HRF during the analysis of fMRI data.
Project description:Brain functioning relies on various segregated/specialized neural regions functioning as an integrated-interconnected network (i.e., metastability). Various psychiatric and neurologic disorders are associated with aberrant functioning of these brain networks. In this study, we present a novel framework integrating the strength and temporal variability of metastability in brain networks. We demonstrate that this approach provides novel mechanistic insights which enables better imaging-based predictions. Using whole-brain resting-state fMRI and a graph-theoretic framework, we integrated strength and temporal-variability of complex-network properties derived from effective connectivity networks, obtained from 87 U.S. Army soldiers consisting of healthy combat controls (n = 28), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; n = 17), and PTSD with comorbid mild-traumatic brain injury (mTBI; n = 42). We identified prefrontal dysregulation of key subcortical and visual regions in PTSD/mTBI, with all network properties exhibiting lower variability over time, indicative of poorer flexibility. Larger impairment in the prefrontal-subcortical pathway but not prefrontal-visual pathway differentiated comorbid PTSD/mTBI from the PTSD group. Network properties of the prefrontal-subcortical pathway also had significant association (R 2 = 0.56) with symptom severity and neurocognitive performance; and were also found to possess high predictive ability (81.4% accuracy in classifying the disorders, explaining 66-72% variance in symptoms), identified through machine learning. Our framework explained 13% more variance in behaviors compared to the conventional framework. These novel insights and better predictions were made possible by our novel framework using static and time-varying network properties in our three-group scenario, advancing the mechanistic understanding of PTSD and comorbid mTBI. Our contribution has wide-ranging applications for network-level characterization of healthy brains as well as mental disorders.