Stable Meta-Networks, Noise, and Artifacts in the Human Connectome: Low- to High-Dimensional Independent Components Analysis as a Hierarchy of Intrinsic Connectivity Networks

Front Neurosci. 2021 May 6:15:625737. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.625737. eCollection 2021.


Connectivity within the human connectome occurs between multiple neuronal systems-at small to very large spatial scales. Independent component analysis (ICA) is potentially a powerful tool to facilitate multi-scale analyses. However, ICA has yet to be fully evaluated at very low (10 or fewer) and ultra-high dimensionalities (200 or greater). The current investigation used data from the Human Connectome Project (HCP) to determine the following: (1) if larger networks, or meta-networks, are present at low dimensionality, (2) if nuisance sources increase with dimensionality, and (3) if ICA is prone to overfitting. Using bootstrap ICA, results suggested that, at very low dimensionality, ICA spatial maps consisted of Visual/Attention and Default/Control meta-networks. At fewer than 10 components, well-known networks such as the Somatomotor Network were absent from results. At high dimensionality, nuisance sources were present even in denoised high-quality data but were identifiable by correlation with tissue probability maps. Artifactual overfitting occurred to a minor degree at high dimensionalities. Basic summary statistics on spatial maps (maximum cluster size, maximum component weight, and average weight outside of maximum cluster) quickly and easily separated artifacts from gray matter sources. Lastly, by using weighted averages of bootstrap stability, even ultra-high dimensional ICA resulted in highly reproducible spatial maps. These results demonstrate how ICA can be applied in multi-scale analyses, reliably and accurately reproducing the hierarchy of meta-networks, large-scale networks, and subnetworks, thereby characterizing cortical connectivity across multiple spatial scales.

Keywords: ICA; connectivity; model order; multi-resolution; multi-scale; multivariate analysis; resting-state.