Spatial Bayesian GLM on the cortical surface produces reliable task activations in individuals and groups.

Daniel Spencer, Yu Ryan Yue, David Bolin, Sarah Ryan, Amanda F Mejia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The general linear model (GLM) is a widely popular and convenient tool for estimating the functional brain response and identifying areas of significant activation during a task or stimulus. However, the classical GLM is based on a massive univariate approach that does not explicitly leverage the similarity of activation patterns among neighboring brain locations. As a result, it tends to produce noisy estimates and be underpowered to detect significant activations, particularly in individual subjects and small groups. A recently proposed alternative, a cortical surface-based spatial Bayesian GLM, leverages spatial dependencies among neighboring cortical vertices to produce more accurate estimates and areas of functional activation. The spatial Bayesian GLM can be applied to individual and group-level analysis. In this study, we assess the reliability and power of individual and group-average measures of task activation produced via the surface-based spatial Bayesian GLM. We analyze motor task data from 45 subjects in the Human Connectome Project (HCP) and HCP Retest datasets. We also extend the model to multi-run analysis and employ subject-specific cortical surfaces rather than surfaces inflated to a sphere for more accurate distance-based modeling. Results show that the surface-based spatial Bayesian GLM produces highly reliable activations in individual subjects and is powerful enough to detect trait-like functional topologies. Additionally, spatial Bayesian modeling enhances reliability of group-level analysis even in moderately sized samples (n=45). Notably, the power of the spatial Bayesian GLM to detect activations above a scientifically meaningful effect size is nearly invariant to sample size, exhibiting high power even in small samples (n=10). The spatial Bayesian GLM is computationally efficient in individuals and groups and is convenient to implement with the open-source BayesfMRI R package.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118908
StatePublished - Jan 15 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-18
Acknowledgements: Data were provided in part by the Human Connectome Project, WU- Minn Consortium (Principal Investigators: David Van Essen and Kamil Ugurbil; 1U54MH091657) funded by the 16 NIH Institutes and Centers that support the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research; and by the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience at Washington University.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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