A comprehensive evaluation of increasing temporal resolution with multiband-accelerated protocols and effects on statistical outcome measures in fMRI

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Accelerated functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) with ‘multiband’ protocols is now relatively widespread. These protocols can be used to dramatically reduce the repetition time (TR) and produce a time-series sampled at a higher temporal resolution, which may produce benefits in the statistical methods typically used to analyse fMRI data. We tested the effects of higher temporal resolutions for fMRI on statistical outcome measures in a comprehensive manner on two different MRI scanner platforms. Spatial resolution was maintained at a constant of 3mm isotropic voxels, and an in-plane acceleration factor of 2 was used for all experiments. Experiment 1 tested a range of acceleration factors (1–6) against a standard EPI protocol on a single composite task that mapped a number of basic sensory, motor, and cognitive networks. Experiment 2 compared the standard protocol with acceleration factors of 2 and 3 on both resting-state and two task paradigms (an N-back task, and faces/places task), with a number of different analysis approaches. Results from experiment 1 showed modest but relatively inconsistent effects of the higher sampling rate on statistical outcome measures. Experiment 2 showed strong benefits of the multiband protocols on results derived from resting-state data, but more varied effects on results from the task paradigms. Notably, the multiband protocols were superior when Multi-Voxel Pattern Analysis was used to interrogate the faces/places data, but showed less benefit in conventional General Linear Model analyses of the same data. In general, ROI-derived measures of statistical effects benefitted only modestly from higher sampling resolution, with greater effects seen when using a measure of the top range of statistical values. Across both experiments, results from the two scanner platforms were broadly comparable. The statistical benefits of high temporal resolution fMRI with multiband protocols may therefore depend on a number of factors, including the nature of the investigation (resting-state vs. task-based), the experimental design, the particular statistical outcome measure, and the type of analysis used.

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