Minimizing noise in pediatric task-based functional MRI; Adolescents with developmental disabilities and typical development
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) represents a powerful tool with which to examine brain functioning and development in typically developing pediatric groups as well as children and adolescents with clinical disorders. However, fMRI data can be highly susceptible to misinterpretation due to the effects of excessive levels of noise, often related to head motion. Imaging children, especially with developmental disorders, requires extra considerations related to hyperactivity, anxiety and the ability to perform and maintain attention to the fMRI paradigm. We discuss a number of methods that can be employed to minimize noise, in particular movement-related noise. To this end we focus on strategies prior to, during and following the data acquisition phase employed primarily within our own laboratory. We discuss the impact of factors such as experimental design, screening of potential participants and pre-scan training on head motion in our adolescents with developmental disorders and typical development. We make some suggestions that may minimize noise during data acquisition itself and finally we briefly discuss some current processing techniques that may help to identify and remove noise in the data. Many advances have been made in the field of pediatric imaging, particularly with regard to research involving children with developmental disorders. Mindfulness of issues such as those discussed here will ensure continued progress and greater consistency across studies.