ICN_Atlas: Automated description and quantification of functional MRI activation patterns in the framework of intrinsic connectivity networks
Generally, the interpretation of functional MRI (fMRI) activation maps continues to rely on assessing their relationship to anatomical structures, mostly in a qualitative and often subjective way. Recently, the existence of persistent and stable brain networks of functional nature has been revealed; in particular these so-called intrinsic connectivity networks (ICNs) appear to link patterns of resting state and task-related state connectivity. These networks provide an opportunity of functionally-derived description and interpretation of fMRI maps, that may be especially important in cases where the maps are predominantly task-unrelated, such as studies of spontaneous brain activity e.g. in the case of seizure-related fMRI maps in epilepsy patients or sleep states. Here we present a new toolbox (ICN_Atlas) aimed at facilitating the interpretation of fMRI data in the context of ICN. More specifically, the new methodology was designed to describe fMRI maps in function-oriented, objective and quantitative way using a set of 15 metrics conceived to quantify the degree of ‘engagement’ of ICNs for any given fMRI-derived statistical map of interest. We demonstrate that the proposed framework provides a highly reliable quantification of fMRI activation maps using a publicly available longitudinal (test-retest) resting-state fMRI dataset. The utility of the ICN_Atlas is also illustrated on a parametric task-modulation fMRI dataset, and on a dataset of a patient who had repeated seizures during resting-state fMRI, confirmed on simultaneously recorded EEG. The proposed ICN_Atlas toolbox is freely available for download at http://icnatlas.com and at http://www.nitrc.org for researchers to use in their fMRI investigations.