Effects of model-based physiological noise correction on default mode network anti-correlations and correlations

Neuroimage. 2009 Oct 1;47(4):1448-59. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.05.012. Epub 2009 May 14.


Previous studies have reported that the spontaneous, resting-state time course of the default-mode network is negatively correlated with that of the "task-positive network", a collection of regions commonly recruited in demanding cognitive tasks. However, all studies of negative correlations between the default-mode and task-positive networks have employed some form of normalization or regression of the whole-brain average signal ("global signal"); these processing steps alter the time series of voxels in an uninterpretable manner as well as introduce spurious negative correlations. Thus, the extent of negative correlations with the default mode network without global signal removal has not been well characterized, and it is has recently been hypothesized that the apparent negative correlations in many of the task-positive regions could be artifactually induced by global signal pre-processing. The present study aimed to examine negative and positive correlations with the default-mode network when model-based corrections for respiratory and cardiac noise are applied in lieu of global signal removal. Physiological noise correction consisted of (1) removal of time-locked cardiac and respiratory artifacts using RETROICOR (Glover, G.H., Li, T.Q., Ress, D., 2000. Image-based method for retrospective correction of physiological motion effects in fMRI: RETROICOR. Magn. Reson. Med. 44, 162-167), and (2) removal of low-frequency respiratory and heart rate variations by convolving these waveforms with pre-determined transfer functions (Birn et al., 2008; Chang et al., 2009) and projecting the resulting two signals out of the data. It is demonstrated that negative correlations between the default-mode network and regions of the task-positive network are present in the majority of individual subjects both with and without physiological noise correction. Physiological noise correction increased the spatial extent and magnitude of negative correlations, yielding negative correlations within task-positive regions at the group-level (p<0.05, uncorrected; no regions at the group level were significant at FDR=0.05). Furthermore, physiological noise correction caused region-specific decreases in positive correlations within the default-mode network, reducing apparent false positives. It was observed that the low-frequency respiratory volume and cardiac rate regressors used within the physiological noise correction algorithm displayed significant (but not total) shared variance with the global signal, and constitute a model-based alternative to correcting for non-neural global noise.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Artifacts*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Movement
  • Myocardial Contraction*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Respiratory Mechanics*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Statistics as Topic