Spurious but systematic correlations in functional connectivity MRI networks arise from subject motion

Jonathan D. Power, Kelly A. Barnes, Abraham Z. Snyder, Bradley L. Schlaggar, Steven E. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4863 Scopus citations


Here, we demonstrate that subject motion produces substantial changes in the timecourses of resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) data despite compensatory spatial registration and regression of motion estimates from the data. These changes cause systematic but spurious correlation structures throughout the brain. Specifically, many long-distance correlations are decreased by subject motion, whereas many short-distance correlations are increased. These changes in rs-fcMRI correlations do not arise from, nor are they adequately countered by, some common functional connectivity processing steps. Two indices of data quality are proposed, and a simple method to reduce motion-related effects in rs-fcMRI analyses is demonstrated that should be flexibly implementable across a variety of software platforms. We demonstrate how application of this technique impacts our own data, modifying previous conclusions about brain development. These results suggest the need for greater care in dealing with subject motion, and the need to critically revisit previous rs-fcMRI work that may not have adequately controlled for effects of transient subject movements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2142-2154
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Artifact
  • FMRI
  • FcMRI
  • Motion
  • Movement
  • Network
  • Noise
  • Resting state


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