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Opportunities and limitations of intrinsic functional connectivity MRI

Abstract

Intrinsic functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) has emerged as a powerful tool for mapping large-scale networks in the human brain. Robust and reliable functionally coupled networks can be detected in individuals that echo many known features of anatomical organization. Features of brain organization have been discovered, including descriptions of distributed large-scale networks interwoven throughout association cortex, interactions (including anticorrelations) between brain networks and insights into the topography of subcortical structures. But interpreting fcMRI is complicated by several factors. Functional coupling changes dynamically, suggesting that it is constrained by, but not fully dictated by, anatomic connectivity. Critically to study of between-group differences, fcMRI is sensitive to head motion and to differences in the mental states of participants during the scans. We discuss the potential of fcMRI in the context of its limitations.

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Figure 1: The basic strategy of intrinsic functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI).
Figure 2: Large-scale cerebral networks identified by intrinsic functional connectivity.
Figure 3: Functional connectivity is sensitive to the task performed during data acquisition.
Figure 4: The organization of the human cerebellum.
Figure 5: Network interactions.

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Correspondence to Randy L Buckner.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Video 1

Resting-state functional connectivity of lateral parietal cortex. The intrinsic functional connectivity networks of human parietal cortex are displayed for a 4-mm seed region that is gradually moved along the cortical surface. The functional connectivity networks are estimated on the surface using resting-state functional MRI data from 1000 young adults. The seed region begins in a region at or near the human homologue of LIP and gradually moves through distinct parietal regions including those primarily coupled to limbic regions. Note that multiple interdigitated networks converge on contiguous regions of parietal cortex. Some of these regions are embedded in sensory-motor circuits; others lack coupling to sensory or motor regions and are embedded in networks comprising what has come to be known as the 'default network'. Thus, human parietal cortex represents a nexus of multiple, interdigitated association pathways. (AVI 8770 kb)

Supplementary Video 2

Resting-state functional connectivity of lateral parietal cortex. The left and right panels each show a 4-mm seed region that is gradually moved along identical trajectories through lateral temporal and parietal cortex. Left panel functional connectivity patterns are computed from a dataset of passive rest collected in 16 subjects. The right panel consists of data collected in the same participants during performance of a semantic classification task. (AVI 14645 kb)

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Buckner, R., Krienen, F. & Yeo, B. Opportunities and limitations of intrinsic functional connectivity MRI. Nat Neurosci 16, 832–837 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3423

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