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Front Neurosci. 2013 May 14;7:70. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00070. eCollection 2013.

Identifying effective connectivity parameters in simulated fMRI: a direct comparison of switching linear dynamic system, stochastic dynamic causal, and multivariate autoregressive models.

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Brain Imaging and Modeling Section, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD, USA.


The number and variety of connectivity estimation methods is likely to continue to grow over the coming decade. Comparisons between methods are necessary to prune this growth to only the most accurate and robust methods. However, the nature of connectivity is elusive with different methods potentially attempting to identify different aspects of connectivity. Commonalities of connectivity definitions across methods upon which base direct comparisons can be difficult to derive. Here, we explicitly define "effective connectivity" using a common set of observation and state equations that are appropriate for three connectivity methods: dynamic causal modeling (DCM), multivariate autoregressive modeling (MAR), and switching linear dynamic systems for fMRI (sLDSf). In addition while deriving this set, we show how many other popular functional and effective connectivity methods are actually simplifications of these equations. We discuss implications of these connections for the practice of using one method to simulate data for another method. After mathematically connecting the three effective connectivity methods, simulated fMRI data with varying numbers of regions and task conditions is generated from the common equation. This simulated data explicitly contains the type of the connectivity that the three models were intended to identify. Each method is applied to the simulated data sets and the accuracy of parameter identification is analyzed. All methods perform above chance levels at identifying correct connectivity parameters. The sLDSf method was superior in parameter estimation accuracy to both DCM and MAR for all types of comparisons.


effective connectivity; fMRI BOLD; modeling and simulation; parameter estimation

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