Objective. Blood-oxygenated-level dependent (BOLD)-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a widely used non-invasive tool for mapping brain function and connectivity. However, the BOLD signal is highly affected by non-neuronal contributions arising from head motion, physiological noise and scanner artefacts. Therefore, it is necessary to recover the signal of interest from the other noise-related fluctuations to obtain reliable functional connectivity (FC) results. Several pre-processing pipelines have been developed, mainly based on nuisance regression and independent component analysis (ICA). The aim of this work was to investigate the impact of seven widely used denoising methods on both resting-state and task fMRI.Approach. Task fMRI can provide some ground truth given that the task administered has well established brain activations. The resulting cleaned data were compared using a wide range of measures: motion evaluation and data quality, resting-state networks and task activations, FC.Main results. Improved signal quality and reduced motion artefacts were obtained with all advanced pipelines, compared to the minimally pre-processed data. Larger variability was observed in the case of brain activation and FC estimates, with ICA-based pipelines generally achieving more reliable and accurate results.Significance. This work provides an evidence-based reference for investigators to choose the most appropriate method for their study and data.
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