The optimized combination of aCompCor and ICA-AROMA to reduce motion and physiologic noise in task fMRI data

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One of the main challenges in fMRI processing is filtering the task BOLD signals from the noise. Independent component analysis with automatic removal of motion artifacts (ICA-AROMA) reduces motion artifacts by identifying ICA noise components based on their location at the brain edges and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), high frequency content and correlation with motion regressors. In anatomical component correction (aCompCor), physiological noise regressors extracted from CSF were regressed out from the fMRI time series. In this study, we compared three methods to combine aCompCor and ICA-AROMA denoising in one denoising step. In the first analysis, we regressed the temporal signals of the ICA components identified as noise by ICA-AROMA together with the noise signals determined by aCompCor from the fMRI signals. For the second and third analyses, the correlation between the temporal signals of the ICA components and the aCompCor noise signals was used as an additional criterion to identify the noise components. In the second analysis, the temporal signals of the ICA components classified as noise were regressed from the fMRI signals. In the third analysis, the noise components were removed. To compare the denoising strategies, we examined the fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (fALFF) and the overlap between the contrast maps. Our results revealed that including the aCompCor noise signals as regressors in ICA-AROMA resulted in more correctly identified noise components, higher fALFF values, and larger activation maps. Moreover, combining the temporal signals of the noise components identified by ICA-AROMA with the aCompCor signals in a noise regression matrix resulted in deactivations. These results suggest that using the correlation between the ICA component temporal signals and the aCompCor signals as noise identification criteria in ICA-AROMA is the best approach for combining both denoising methods.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiomedical Physics & Engineering Express
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution license.


  • CompCor
  • denoising
  • fMRI repetition suppression


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