Robustness of intrinsic connectivity networks in the human brain to the presence of acoustic scanner noise

Neuroimage. 2011 Apr 15;55(4):1617-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.01.019. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


Evoked responses in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are affected by the presence of acoustic scanner noise (ASN). Particularly, stimulus-related activation of the auditory system and deactivation of the default mode network have repeatedly been shown to diminish. In contrast, little is known about the influence of ASN on the spontaneous fluctuations in brain activity that are crucial for network-related neuroimaging methods like independent component analysis (ICA) or functional and effective connectivity analysis (ECA). The present study assessed the robustness of intrinsic connectivity networks in the human brain to the presence of ASN by comparing 'silent' (sparse) and 'noisy' (continuous) acquisition schemes, both during task performance and during rest. In agreement with existing literature, ASN strongly diminished conventional evoked response levels. In contrast, ICA and ECA robustly identified similar functional networks regardless of the scanning method. ASN affected the strength of only few independent components, and effective connectivity was hardly sensitive to ASN overall. However, unexpectedly, ICA revealed notable differences in the underlying neurodynamics. In particular, low-frequency network oscillations dominated in the commonly used continuous scanning environment, but signal spectra were significantly flatter during the less noisy sparse scanning runs. We tentatively attribute these differences to the ubiquitous influence of ASN on alertness and arousal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cues
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Noise*
  • Perceptual Masking / physiology