Stochastic dynamic causal modelling of fMRI data: should we care about neural noise?

Neuroimage. 2012 Aug 1;62(1):464-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.04.061. Epub 2012 May 9.


Dynamic causal modelling (DCM) was introduced to study the effective connectivity among brain regions using neuroimaging data. Until recently, DCM relied on deterministic models of distributed neuronal responses to external perturbation (e.g., sensory stimulation or task demands). However, accounting for stochastic fluctuations in neuronal activity and their interaction with task-specific processes may be of particular importance for studying state-dependent interactions. Furthermore, allowing for random neuronal fluctuations may render DCM more robust to model misspecification and finesse problems with network identification. In this article, we examine stochastic dynamic causal models (sDCM) in relation to their deterministic counterparts (dDCM) and highlight questions that can only be addressed with sDCM. We also compare the network identification performance of deterministic and stochastic DCM, using Monte Carlo simulations and an empirical case study of absence epilepsy. For example, our results demonstrate that stochastic DCM can exploit the modelling of neural noise to discriminate between direct and mediated connections. We conclude with a discussion of the added value and limitations of sDCM, in relation to its deterministic homologue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Stochastic Processes*