The effect of resting condition on resting-state fMRI reliability and consistency: A comparison between resting with eyes open, closed, and fixated

Rémi Patriat, Erin K. Molloy, Timothy B. Meier, Gregory R. Kirk, Veena A. Nair, Mary E. Meyerand, Vivek Prabhakaran, Rasmus M. Birn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

296 Scopus citations


Resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) has been demonstrated to have moderate to high reliability and produces consistent patterns of connectivity across a wide variety of subjects, sites, and scanners. However, there is no one agreed upon method to acquire rs-fMRI data. Some sites instruct their subjects, or patients, to lie still with their eyes closed, while other sites instruct their subjects to keep their eyes open or even fixating on a cross during scanning. Several studies have compared those three resting conditions based on connectivity strength. In our study, we assess differences in metrics of test-retest reliability (using an intraclass correlation coefficient), and consistency of the rank-order of connections within a subject and the ranks of subjects for a particular connection from one session to another (using Kendall's W tests). Twenty-five healthy subjects were scanned at three different time points for each resting condition, twice the same day and another time two to three months later. Resting-state functional connectivity measures were evaluated in motor, visual, auditory, attention, and default-mode networks, and compared between the different resting conditions. Of the networks examined, only the auditory network resulted in significantly higher connectivity in the eyes closed condition compared to the other two conditions. No significant between-condition differences in connectivity strength were found in default mode, attention, visual, and motor networks. Overall, the differences in reliability and consistency between different resting conditions were relatively small in effect size but results were found to be significant. Across all within-network connections, and within default-mode, attention, and auditory networks statistically significant greater reliability was found when the subjects were lying with their eyes fixated on a cross. In contrast, primary visual network connectivity was most reliable when subjects had their eyes open (and not fixating on a cross).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-473
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We used an ICC code written by Arash Salarian (MATLAB Central File Exchange. Retrieved August 23, 2012). We thank Rebecca D. Ray, Ricardo Pizarro and Jie Song for assistance with data collection. We also thank Moo K. Chung for his statistical assistance. This study was funded by NIH grant RC1MH090912 and the Health Emotions Research Institute .


  • Eyes closed
  • Eyes fixate
  • Eyes open
  • FMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Reliability
  • Resting-state


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