Does motion-related brain functional connectivity reflect both artifacts and genuine neural activity?

Jesus Pujol, Dídac Macià, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Gerard Martínez-Vilavella, Jordi Sunyer, Rafael de la Torre, Assumpta Caixàs, Rocío Martín-Santos, Joan Deus, Ben J. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Imaging research on functional connectivity is uniquely contributing to characterize the functional organization of the human brain. Functional connectivity measurements, however, may be significantly influenced by head motion that occurs during image acquisition. The identification of how motion influences such measurements is therefore highly relevant to the interpretation of a study's results. We have mapped the effect of head motion on functional connectivity in six different populations representing a wide range of potential influences of motion on functional connectivity. Group-level voxel-wise maps of the correlation between a summary head motion measurement and functional connectivity degree were estimated in 80 young adults, 71 children, 53 older adults, 20 patients with Down syndrome, 24 with Prader-Willi syndrome and 20 with Williams syndrome. In highly compliant young adults, motion correlated with functional connectivity measurements showing a system-specific anatomy involving the sensorimotor cortex, visual areas and default mode network. Further characterization was strongly indicative of these changes expressing genuine neural activity related to motion, as opposed to pure motion artifact. In the populations with larger head motion, results were more indicative of widespread artifacts, but showing notably distinct spatial distribution patterns. Group-level regression of motion effects was efficient in removing both generalized changes and changes putatively related to neural activity. Overall, this study endorses a relatively simple approach for mapping distinct effects of head motion on functional connectivity. Importantly, our findings support the intriguing hypothesis that a component of motion-related changes may reflect system-specific neural activity. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-95
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Brain networks
  • Default mode network
  • FMRI
  • Head motion
  • Resting-state
  • Sensorimotor cortex


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