Overview of potential procedural and participant-related confounds for neuroimaging of the resting state

Overview of potential procedural and participant-related confounds for neuroimaging of the resting state

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J Psychiatry Neurosci 2013; 38(2):84-96

Niall W. Duncan, BSc, MLitt; Georg Northoff, MD, PhD

Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics Research Unit, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, Ottawa, Ont.

Abstract

Studies of intrinsic brain activity in the resting state have become increasingly common. A productive discussion of what analysis methods are appropriate, of the importance of physiologic correction and of the potential interpretations of results has been ongoing. However, less attention has been paid to factors other than physiologic noise that may confound resting-state experiments. These range from straightforward factors, such as ensuring that participants are all instructed in the same manner, to more obscure participant-related factors, such as body weight. We provide an overview of such potentially confounding factors, along with some suggested approaches for minimizing their impact. A particular theme that emerges from the overview is the range of systematic differences between types of study groups (e.g., between patients and controls) that may influence resting-state study results.


Submitted Mar. 22, 2012; Revised May 23, 2012; Accepted June 7, 2012.

Competing interests: None declared.

DOI: 10.1503/jpn.120059

Correspondence to: N.W. Duncan, Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics Research Unit, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, 1145 Carling Ave., Room 6441, Ottawa ON K1Z 7K4; niall.w.duncan@gmail.com