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Estimates of functional connectivity derived from resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) are sensitive to artefacts caused by in-scanner head motion. This susceptibility has motivated the development of numerous denoising methods designed to mitigate motion-related artefacts. Here, we compare popular retrospective rs-fMRI denoising methods, such as regression of head motion parameters and mean white matter (WM) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (with and without expansion terms), aCompCor, volume censoring (e.g., scrubbing and spike regression), global signal regression and ICA-AROMA, combined into 19 different pipelines. These pipelines were evaluated across five different quality control benchmarks in four independent datasets associated with varying levels of motion. Pipelines were benchmarked by examining the residual relationship between in-scanner movement and functional connectivity after denoising; the effect of distance on this residual relationship; whole-brain differences in functional connectivity between high- and low-motion healthy controls (HC); the temporal degrees of freedom lost during denoising; and the test-retest reliability of functional connectivity estimates. We also compared the sensitivity of each pipeline to clinical differences in functional connectivity in independent samples of people with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Our results indicate that (1) simple linear regression of regional fMRI time series against head motion parameters and WM/CSF signals (with or without expansion terms) is not sufficient to remove head motion artefacts; (2) aCompCor pipelines may only be viable in low-motion data; (3) volume censoring performs well at minimising motion-related artefact but a major benefit of this approach derives from the exclusion of high-motion individuals; (4) while not as effective as volume censoring, ICA-AROMA performed well across our benchmarks for relatively low cost in terms of data loss; (5) the addition of global signal regression improved the performance of nearly all pipelines on most benchmarks, but exacerbated the distance-dependence of correlations between motion and functional connectivity; and (6) group comparisons in functional connectivity between healthy controls and schizophrenia patients are highly dependent on preprocessing strategy. We offer some recommendations for best practice and outline simple analyses to facilitate transparent reporting of the degree to which a given set of findings may be affected by motion-related artefact.
- Functional connectivity