Resting state fMRI in the moving fetus: A robust framework for motion, bias field and spin history correction

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There is growing interest in exploring fetal functional brain development, particularly with Resting State fMRI. However, during a typical fMRI acquisition, the womb moves due to maternal respiration and the fetus may perform large-scale and unpredictable movements. Conventional fMRI processing pipelines, which assume that brain movements are infrequent or at least small, are not suitable. Previous published studies have tackled this problem by adopting conventional methods and discarding as much as 40% or more of the acquired data.

In this work, we developed and tested a processing framework for fetal Resting State fMRI, capable of correcting gross motion. The method comprises bias field and spin history corrections in the scanner frame of reference, combined with slice to volume registration and scattered data interpolation to place all data into a consistent anatomical space. The aim is to recover an ordered set of samples suitable for further analysis using standard tools such as Group Independent Component Analysis (Group ICA).

We have tested the approach using simulations and in vivo data acquired at 1.5 T. After full motion correction, Group ICA performed on a population of 8 fetuses extracted 20 networks, 6 of which were identified as matching those previously observed in preterm babies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-568
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Fetal fMRI
  • Slice to volume registration
  • Resting state networks
  • Scattered interpolation
  • Bias field correction
  • Spin history correction


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