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The correspondence problem: which brain maps are significantly similar?

By Aaron Alexander-Bloch, Simon N. Vandekar, Russell T Shinohara, Siyuan Liu, Theodore D Satterthwaite, David C Glahn, Armin Raznahan

Posted 13 Oct 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/203083 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.05.070)

A critical issue in many neuroimaging studies is the comparison between brain maps. How should we test the hypothesis that two or more brain maps are partially convergent or overlap to a significant extent? This "correspondence problem" affects, for example, the interpretation of comparisons between task-based patterns of functional activation, resting-state networks or modules, and neuroanatomical landmarks. In published work, this problem has been addressed with remarkable variability in terms of methodological approaches and statistical rigor. In this paper, we address the correspondence problem using a spatial permutation framework to generate null models of overlap, by applying random rotations to spherical representations of the cortical surface. We use this approach to derive clusters of cognitive functions that are significantly similar in terms of their functional neuroatomical substrates. In addition, using publicly available data, we formally demonstrate the correspondence between maps of task-based functional activity, resting-state fMRI networks and gyral-based anatomical landmarks. We provide open-access code to implement the methods presented for two commonly-used tools for surface based cortical analysis. This spatial permutation approach constitutes a useful advance over widely-used methods for the comparison of cortical maps, and thereby opens up new possibilities for the integration of diverse neuroimaging data.

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