The role of physiological noise in resting-state functional connectivity.
Functional connectivity between different brain regions can be estimated from MRI data by computing the temporal correlation of low frequency (<0.1Hz) fluctuations in the MRI signal. These correlated fluctuations occur even when the subject is "at rest" (not asked to perform any particular task) and result from spontaneous neuronal activity synchronized within multiple distinct networks of brain regions. This estimate of connectivity, however, can be influenced by physiological noise, such as cardiac and respiratory fluctuations. This brief review looks at the effect of physiological noise on estimates of resting-state functional connectivity, discusses ways to remove physiological noise, and provides a personal recollection of the early developments in these approaches. This review also discusses the importance of physiological noise correction and provides a summary of evidence demonstrating that functional connectivity does have a neuronal underpinning and cannot purely be the result of physiological noise. Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier Inc.