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Brain Connect. 2016 Jul;6(6):448-60. doi: 10.1089/brain.2015.0416. Epub 2016 Jun 24.

Quantifying the Test-Retest Reliability of Magnetoencephalography Resting-State Functional Connectivity.

Author information

1 Laboratory of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience (UCM-UPM), Centre for Biomedical Technology , Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid, Spain .
2 Department of Applied Physics III, Faculty of Physics, Universidad Complutense de Madrid , Madrid, Spain .
3 Biomedical Research Networking Center in Bioengineering Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) , Madrid, Spain .
4 Psychology Division, Cardenal Cisneros University College , Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain .
5 Department of Basic Psychology II, Faculty of Psychology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid , Madrid, Spain .


The coordinated activity of the resting-state brain can be evaluated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) for distinct brain rhythms by performing source reconstruction to estimate the activities of target brain regions and employing one of the many existent functional connectivity (FC) algorithms. Although this procedure has been applied in a great amount of studies both with healthy and pathological populations, the reliability of such FC estimates is unknown, and this impairs the use of resting-state MEG FC at the individual level. In this study, the test-retest reliability of MEG resting FC was evaluated by exploring both within- and between-subject variability in FC in 16 healthy subjects who underwent three resting-state MEG scans. FC was computed after beamforming source reconstruction with four popular FC metrics: phase-locking value (PLV), phase lag index (PLI), direct envelope correlation (d-ecor), and envelope correlation with leakage correction (lc-ecor). Then, test-restest reliability and within- and between-subject agreement were evaluated with the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) and Kendall's W, respectively. Reliability was found to depend on the FC metric, the frequency band, and the specific link. As a general trend, greater test-retest reliability was found for PLV in theta to gamma, and for lc-ecor and d-ecor in beta. Further inspection of the ICC distribution revealed that volume conduction effects could be contributing to high ICC in PLV and d-ecor. In addition, stronger links were found to be more reliable. Overall, this encourages the further use of resting-state MEG FC for individual-level studies, especially with PLV or envelope correlation metrics.


MEG; amplitude synchronization; brain network; functional connectivity; phase synchronization; resting state; test-retest reliability

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