Constructing fMRI connectivity networks: A whole brain functional parcellation method for node definition

Eleonora Maggioni, Maria Gabriella Tana, Filippo Arrigoni, Claudio Zucca, Anna Maria Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is used for exploring brain functionality, and recently it was applied for mapping the brain connection patterns. To give a meaningful neurobiological interpretation to the connectivity network, it is fundamental to properly define the network framework. In particular, the choice of the network nodes may affect the final connectivity results and the consequent interpretation. New method: We introduce a novel method for the intra subject topological characterization of the nodes of fMRI brain networks, based on a whole brain parcellation scheme. The proposed whole brain parcellation algorithm divides the brain into clusters that are homogeneous from the anatomical and functional point of view, each of which constitutes a node. The functional parcellation described is based on the Tononi's cluster index, which measures instantaneous correlation in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic statistical dependencies. Results: The method performance and reliability were first tested on simulated data, then on a real fMRI dataset acquired on healthy subjects during visual stimulation. Finally, the proposed algorithm was applied to epileptic patients' fMRI data recorded during seizures, to verify its usefulness as preparatory step for effective connectivity analysis. For each patient, the nodes of the network involved in ictal activity were defined according to the proposed parcellation scheme and Granger Causality Analysis (GCA) was applied to infer effective connectivity. Conclusions: We showed that the algorithm 1) performed well on simulated data, 2) was able to produce reliable inter subjects results and 3) led to a detailed definition of the effective connectivity pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-99
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2014


  • Brain connectivity
  • FMRI
  • FMRI time series
  • Functional clustering
  • Whole brain parcellation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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