Model testing for distinctive functional connectivity gradients with resting-state fMRI data.


Integrative Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794-2500, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


In accordance with the concept of topographic organization of neuroanatomical structures, there is an increased interest in estimating and delineating continuous changes in the functional connectivity patterns across neighboring voxels within a region of interest using resting-state fMRI data. Fundamental to this functional connectivity gradient analysis is the assumption that the functional organization is stable and uniform across the region of interest. To evaluate this assumption, we developed a statistical model testing procedure to arbitrate between overlapping, shifted, or different topographic connectivity gradients across subdivisions of a structure. We tested the procedure using the striatum, a subcortical structure consisting of the caudate nucleus and putamen, in which an extensive literature, primarily from rodents and non-human primates, suggest to have a shared topographic organization of a single diagonal gradient. We found, across multiple resting state fMRI data samples of different spatial resolutions in humans, and one macaque resting state fMRI data sample, that the models with different functional connectivity gradients across the caudate and putamen was the preferred model. The model selection procedure was validated in control conditions of checkerboard subdivisions, demonstrating the expected overlapping gradient. More specifically, while we replicated the diagonal organization of the functional connectivity gradients in both the caudate and putamen, our analysis also revealed a medial-lateral organization within the caudate. Not surprisingly, performing the same analysis assuming a unitary gradient obfuscates the medial-lateral organization of the caudate, producing only a diagonal gradient. These findings demonstrate the importance of testing basic assumptions and evaluating interpretations across species. The significance of differential topographic gradients across the putamen and caudate and the medial-lateral gradient of the caudate in humans should be tested in future studies.


Functional gradient,Resting-state fMRI,Striatal organization,