Influences on the Test-Retest Reliability of Functional Connectivity MRI and Its Relationship With Behavioral Utility

Cereb Cortex. 2017 Nov 1;27(11):5415-5429. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx230.

Abstract

Best practices are currently being developed for the acquisition and processing of resting-state magnetic resonance imaging data used to estimate brain functional organization-or "functional connectivity." Standards have been proposed based on test-retest reliability, but open questions remain. These include how amount of data per subject influences whole-brain reliability, the influence of increasing runs versus sessions, the spatial distribution of reliability, the reliability of multivariate methods, and, crucially, how reliability maps onto prediction of behavior. We collected a dataset of 12 extensively sampled individuals (144 min data each across 2 identically configured scanners) to assess test-retest reliability of whole-brain connectivity within the generalizability theory framework. We used Human Connectome Project data to replicate these analyses and relate reliability to behavioral prediction. Overall, the historical 5-min scan produced poor reliability averaged across connections. Increasing the number of sessions was more beneficial than increasing runs. Reliability was lowest for subcortical connections and highest for within-network cortical connections. Multivariate reliability was greater than univariate. Finally, reliability could not be used to improve prediction; these findings are among the first to underscore this distinction for functional connectivity. A comprehensive understanding of test-retest reliability, including its limitations, supports the development of best practices in the field.

Keywords: behavioral prediction; multivariate; resting state functional connectivity; test–retest reliability; whole brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Connectome* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Rest