ICA-based artefact removal and accelerated fMRI acquisition for improved resting state network imaging

Ludovica Griffanti, Gholamreza Salimi-Khorshidi, Christian F. Beckmann, Edward J. Auerbach, Gwenaëlle Douaud, Claire E. Sexton, Eniko Zsoldos, Klaus P. Ebmeier, Nicola Filippini, Clare E. Mackay, Steen Moeller, Junqian Xu, Essa Yacoub, Giuseppe Baselli, Kamil Ugurbil, Karla L. Miller, Stephen M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

837 Scopus citations


The identification of resting state networks (RSNs) and the quantification of their functional connectivity in resting-state fMRI (rfMRI) are seriously hindered by the presence of artefacts, many of which overlap spatially or spectrally with RSNs. Moreover, recent developments in fMRI acquisition yield data with higher spatial and temporal resolutions, but may increase artefacts both spatially and/or temporally. Hence the correct identification and removal of non-neural fluctuations is crucial, especially in accelerated acquisitions. In this paper we investigate the effectiveness of three data-driven cleaning procedures, compare standard against higher (spatial and temporal) resolution accelerated fMRI acquisitions, and investigate the combined effect of different acquisitions and different cleanup approaches. We applied single-subject independent component analysis (ICA), followed by automatic component classification with FMRIB's ICA-based X-noiseifier (FIX) to identify artefactual components. We then compared two first-level (within-subject) cleaning approaches for removing those artefacts and motion-related fluctuations from the data. The effectiveness of the cleaning procedures was assessed using time series (amplitude and spectra), network matrix and spatial map analyses. For time series and network analyses we also tested the effect of a second-level cleaning (informed by group-level analysis). Comparing these approaches, the preferable balance between noise removal and signal loss was achieved by regressing out of the data the full space of motion-related fluctuations and only the unique variance of the artefactual ICA components. Using similar analyses, we also investigated the effects of different cleaning approaches on data from different acquisition sequences. With the optimal cleaning procedures, functional connectivity results from accelerated data were statistically comparable or significantly better than the standard (unaccelerated) acquisition, and, crucially, with higher spatial and temporal resolution. Moreover, we were able to perform higher dimensionality ICA decompositions with the accelerated data, which is very valuable for detailed network analyses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-247
Number of pages16
StatePublished - Jul 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding acknowledgements: NIH 1U54MH091657-01 P30-NS057091 P41-RR08079/EB015894 , UK MRC G1001354 (Whitehall II MRI Sub-study); The HDH Wills 1965 Charitable Trust (NF, AM). CES and CEM were supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre based at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust and University of Oxford. We thank: Charlotte Allan, Abda Mahmood, Amanda Pipkin, Anja Topiwala for recruiting and assessing participants; Radiographers (Caroline Young, Michael Sanders, Jon Campbell) for acquiring scans; Mika Kivimäki, Archana Singh-Manoux for giving access to Whitehall II data, and John R Geddes for applying for the funding.


  • Artefact removal
  • Functional connectivity
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Multiband acceleration
  • Resting-state


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