Robust data driven model order estimation for independent component analysis of FMRI data with low contrast to noise.

Majeed W, Avison MJ
PLoS One. 2014 9 (4): e94943

PMID: 24788636 · PMCID: PMC4005775 · DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0094943

Independent component analysis (ICA) has been successfully utilized for analysis of functional MRI (fMRI) data for task related as well as resting state studies. Although it holds the promise of becoming an unbiased data-driven analysis technique, a few choices have to be made prior to performing ICA, selection of a method for determining the number of independent components (nIC) being one of them. Choice of nIC has been shown to influence the ICA maps, and various approaches (mostly relying on information theoretic criteria) have been proposed and implemented in commonly used ICA analysis packages, such as MELODIC and GIFT. However, there has been no consensus on the optimal method for nIC selection, and many studies utilize arbitrarily chosen values for nIC. Accurate and reliable determination of true nIC is especially important in the setting where the signals of interest contribute only a small fraction of the total variance, i.e. very low contrast-to-noise ratio (CNR), and/or very focal response. In this study, we evaluate the performance of different model order selection criteria and demonstrate that the model order selected based upon bootstrap stability of principal components yields more reliable and accurate estimates of model order. We then demonstrate the utility of this fully data-driven approach to detect weak and focal stimulus-driven responses in real data. Finally, we compare the performance of different multi-run ICA approaches using pseudo-real data.

MeSH Terms (2)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Models, Theoretical

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