Psychophysiological interactions in a visual checkerboard task: Reproducibility, reliability, and the effects of deconvolution

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Psychophysiological interaction (PPI) is a regression based method to study task modulated brain connectivity. Despite its popularity in functional MRI (fMRI) studies, its reliability and reproducibility have not been evaluated. We investigated reproducibility and reliability of PPI effects during a simple visual task, and examined the effect of deconvolution on the PPI results. A large open-access dataset was analyzed (n = 138), where a visual task was scanned twice with repetition times (TRs) of 645 and 1,400 ms, respectively. We first replicated our previous results by using the left and right middle occipital gyrus as seeds. Then regions of interest (ROI)-wise analysis was performed among 20 visual-related thalamic and cortical regions, and negative PPI effects were found between many ROIs with the posterior fusiform gyrus as a hub region. Both the seed-based and ROI-wise results were similar between the two runs and between the two PPI methods with and without deconvolution. The non-deconvolution method and the short TR run in general had larger effect sizes and greater extents. However, the deconvolution method performed worse in the 645 ms TR run than the 1,400 ms TR run in the voxel-wise analysis. Given the general similar results between the two methods and the uncertainty of deconvolution, we suggest that deconvolution may be not necessary for PPI analysis on block-designed data. Lastly, intraclass correlations (ICC) between the two runs were much lower for the PPI effects than the activation main effects, which raise cautions on performing inter-subject correlations and group comparisons on PPI effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number573
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberOCT
StatePublished - Oct 17 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Deconvolution
  • Psychophysiological interaction
  • Reliability
  • Reproducibility
  • Test-retest


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