On spurious and real fluctuations of dynamic functional connectivity during rest

Neuroimage. 2015 Jan 1;104:430-6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.09.007. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Functional brain networks reconfigure spontaneously during rest. Such network dynamics can be studied by dynamic functional connectivity (dynFC); i.e., sliding-window correlations between regional brain activity. Key parameters-such as window length and cut-off frequencies for filtering-are not yet systematically studied. In this letter we provide the fundamental theory from signal processing to address these parameter choices when estimating and interpreting dynFC. We guide the reader through several illustrative cases, both simple analytical models and experimental fMRI BOLD data. First, we show how spurious fluctuations in dynFC can arise due to the estimation method when the window length is shorter than the largest wavelength present in both signals, even for deterministic signals with a fixed relationship. Second, we study how real fluctuations of dynFC can be explained using a frequency-based view, which is particularly instructive for signals with multiple frequency components such as fMRI BOLD, demonstrating that fluctuations in sliding-window correlation emerge by interaction between frequency components similar to the phenomenon of beat frequencies. We conclude with practical guidelines for the choice and impact of the window length.

Keywords: Dynamic functional connectivity; Non-stationarity; Resting state; Sliding-window correlation; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artifacts*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*