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Effect of Scanning Duration and Sample Size on Reliability in Resting State fMRI Dynamic Causal Modeling Analysis.

NeuroImage 2024 April 10
Despite its widespread use, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) has been criticized for low test-retest reliability. To improve reliability, researchers have recommended using extended scanning durations, increased sample size, and advanced brain connectivity techniques. However, longer scanning runs and larger sample sizes may come with practical challenges and burdens, especially in rare populations. Here we tested if an advanced brain connectivity technique, dynamic causal modeling (DCM), can improve reliability of fMRI effective connectivity (EC) metrics to acceptable levels without extremely long run durations or extremely large samples. Specifically, we employed DCM for EC analysis on rsfMRI data from the Human Connectome Project. To avoid bias, we assessed four distinct DCMs and gradually increased sample sizes in a randomized manner across ten permutations. We employed pseudo true positive and pseudo false positive rates to assess the efficacy of shorter run durations (3.6, 7.2, 10.8, 14.4 minutes) in replicating the outcomes of the longest scanning duration (28.8 min) when the sample size was fixed at the largest (n=160 subjects). Similarly, we assessed the efficacy of smaller sample sizes (n=10, 20, …, 150 subjects) in replicating the outcomes of the largest sample (n=160 subjects) when the scanning duration was fixed at the longest (28.8 min). Our results revealed that the pseudo false positive rate was below 0.05 for all the analyses. After the scanning duration reached 10.8 minutes, which yielded a pseudo true positive rate of 92%, further extensions in run time showed no improvements in pseudo true positive rate. Expanding the sample size led to enhanced pseudo true positive rate outcomes, with a plateau at n=70 subjects for the targeted top one-half of the largest ECs in the reference sample, regardless of whether the longest run duration (28.8 minutes) or the viable run duration (10.8 minutes) was employed. Encouragingly, smaller sample sizes exhibited pseudo true positive rates of approximately 80% for n=20, and 90% for n=40 subjects. These data suggest that advanced DCM analysis may be a viable option to attain reliable metrics of EC when larger sample sizes or run times are not feasible.

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