A novel implementation of spinal fMRI demonstrates segmental organisation of functionally connected networks in the cervical spinal cord: A test-retest reliability study

Kowalczyk, Olivia S., Medina, Sonia, Tsivaka, Dimitra, McMahon, Stephen B., Williams, Steven C. R., Brooks, Jonathan C. W. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3335-6209, Lythgoe, David J. and Howard, Matthew A. (2023) A novel implementation of spinal fMRI demonstrates segmental organisation of functionally connected networks in the cervical spinal cord: A test-retest reliability study.

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)


Resting fMRI studies have identified intrinsic spinal cord activity, which forms organised motor (ventral) and sensory (dorsal) resting-state networks. However, to facilitate the use of spinal fMRI in, for example, clinical studies, it is crucial to first assess the reliability of the method, particularly given the unique anatomical, physiological, and methodological challenges associated with acquiring the data. Here we demonstrate a novel implementation for acquiring BOLD-sensitive resting-state spinal fMRI, which was used to characterise functional connectivity relationships in the cervical cord and assess their test-retest reliability in 23 young healthy volunteers. Resting-state networks were estimated in two ways: (1) by extracting the mean timeseries from anatomically constrained seed masks and estimating voxelwise connectivity maps and (2) by calculating seed-to-seed correlations between extracted mean timeseries. Seed regions corresponded to the four grey matter horns (ventral/dorsal and left/right) of C5-C8 segmental levels. Test-retest reliability was assessed using the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) in the following ways: for each voxel in the cervical spine; each voxel within an activated cluster; the mean signal as a summary estimate within an activated cluster; and correlation strength in the seed-to-seed analysis. Spatial overlap of clusters derived from voxelwise analysis between sessions was examined using Dice coefficients. Following voxelwise analysis, we observed distinct unilateral dorsal and ventral organisation of cervical spinal resting-state networks that was largely confined in the rostro-caudal extent to each spinal segmental level, with more sparse connections observed between segments (Bonferroni corrected p < 0.003, threshold-free cluster enhancement with 5000 permutations). Additionally, strongest correlations were observed between within-segment ipsilateral dorso-ventral connections, followed by within-segment dorso-dorsal and ventro-ventral connections. Test-retest reliability of these networks was mixed. Reliability was poor when assessed on a voxelwise level, with more promising indications of reliability when examining the average signal within clusters. Reliability of correlation strength between seeds was highly variable, with highest reliability achieved in ipsilateral dorso-ventral and dorso-dorsal/ventro-ventral connectivity. However, the spatial overlap of networks between sessions was excellent. We demonstrate that while test-retest reliability of cervical spinal resting-state networks is mixed, their spatial extent is similar across sessions, suggesting that these networks are characterised by a consistent spatial representation over time.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2023 12:30
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2023 12:30
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/91493
DOI: 10.1101/2023.02.27.530185

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item