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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Feb 1;7:19. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00019. eCollection 2013.

ICA analysis of fMRI with real-time constraints: an evaluation of fast detection performance as function of algorithms, parameters and a priori conditions.

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CIMeC, Interdipartimental Center for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento Trento, Italy.


Independent component analysis (ICA) techniques offer a data-driven possibility to analyze brain functional MRI data in real-time. Typical ICA methods used in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), however, have been until now mostly developed and optimized for the off-line case in which all data is available. Real-time experiments are ill-posed for ICA in that several constraints are added: limited data, limited analysis time and dynamic changes in the data and computational speed. Previous studies have shown that particular choices of ICA parameters can be used to monitor real-time fMRI (rt-fMRI) brain activation, but it is unknown how other choices would perform. In this rt-fMRI simulation study we investigate and compare the performance of 14 different publicly available ICA algorithms systematically sampling different growing window lengths (WLs), model order (MO) as well as a priori conditions (none, spatial or temporal). Performance is evaluated by computing the spatial and temporal correlation to a target component as well as computation time. Four algorithms are identified as best performing (constrained ICA, fastICA, amuse, and evd), with their corresponding parameter choices. Both spatial and temporal priors are found to provide equal or improved performances in similarity to the target compared with their off-line counterpart, with greatly reduced computation costs. This study suggests parameter choices that can be further investigated in a sliding-window approach for a rt-fMRI experiment.


ill-posed problems; independent component analysis; real-time; whole-brain fMRI

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