Identifying abnormal connectivity in patients using dynamic causal modeling of fMRI responses

Mohamed L. Seghier, Peter Zeidman, Nicholas H. Neufeld, Alex P. Leff, Cathy J. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Functional imaging studies of brain damaged patients offer a unique opportunity to understand how sensorimotor and cognitive tasks can be carried out when parts of the neural system that support normal performance are no longer available. In addition to knowing which regions a patient activates, we also need to know how these regions interact with one another, and how these inter-regional interactions deviate from normal. Dynamic causal modeling (DCM) offers the opportunity to assess task-dependent interactions within a set of regions. Here we review its use in patients when the question of interest concerns the characterization of abnormal connectivity for a given pathology. We describe the currently available implementations of DCM for fMRI responses, varying from the deterministic bilinear models with one-state equation to the stochastic non-linear models with two-state equations. We also highlight the importance of the new Bayesian model selection and averaging tools that allow different plausible models to be compared at the single subject and group level. These procedures allow inferences to be made at different levels of model selection, from features (model families) to connectivity parameters. Following a critical review of previous DCM studies that investigated abnormal connectivity we propose a systematic procedure that will ensure more flexibility and efficiency when using DCM in patients. Finally, some practical and methodological issues crucial for interpreting or generalizing DCM findings in patients are discussed.

Original languageBritish English
Article number142
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2010


  • Abnormal connectivity
  • Abnormal networks
  • Dynamic causal modeling
  • Effective connectivity
  • Functional MRI
  • Patients


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