Test-Retest Reliability of Graph Metrics in Functional Brain Networks: A Resting-State fNIRS Study

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Abstract

Recent research has demonstrated the feasibility of combining functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and graph theory approaches to explore the topological attributes of human brain networks. However, the test-retest (TRT) reliability of the application of graph metrics to these networks remains to be elucidated. Here, we used resting-state fNIRS and a graph-theoretical approach to systematically address TRT reliability as it applies to various features of human brain networks, including functional connectivity, global network metrics and regional nodal centrality metrics. Eighteen subjects participated in two resting-state fNIRS scan sessions held ∼20 min apart. Functional brain networks were constructed for each subject by computing temporal correlations on three types of hemoglobin concentration information (HbO, HbR, and HbT). This was followed by a graph-theoretical analysis, and then an intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) was further applied to quantify the TRT reliability of each network metric. We observed that a large proportion of resting-state functional connections (∼90%) exhibited good reliability (0.6 < ICC < 0.74). For global and nodal measures, reliability was generally threshold-sensitive and varied among both network metrics and hemoglobin concentration signals. Specifically, the majority of global metrics exhibited fair to excellent reliability, with notably higher ICC values for the clustering coefficient (HbO: 0.76; HbR: 0.78; HbT: 0.53) and global efficiency (HbO: 0.76; HbR: 0.70; HbT: 0.78). Similarly, both nodal degree and efficiency measures also showed fair to excellent reliability across nodes (degree: 0.52∼0.84; efficiency: 0.50∼0.84); reliability was concordant across HbO, HbR and HbT and was significantly higher than that of nodal betweenness (0.28∼0.68). Together, our results suggest that most graph-theoretical network metrics derived from fNIRS are TRT reliable and can be used effectively for brain network research. This study also provides important guidance on the choice of network metrics of interest for future applied research in developmental and clinical neuroscience. © 2013 Niu et al.

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Niu, H., Li, Z., Liao, X., Wang, J., Zhao, T., Shu, N., … He, Y. (2013). Test-Retest Reliability of Graph Metrics in Functional Brain Networks: A Resting-State fNIRS Study. PLoS ONE, 8(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0072425

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