Brain Connect 2013 ;3(2):160-76
Department of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, California 94107, USA.
Structural magnetic resonance (MR) connectomics holds promise for the diagnosis, outcome prediction, and treatment monitoring of many common neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, and neurodegenerative disorders for which there is currently no clinical utility for MR imaging (MRI). Before computational network metrics from the human connectome can be applied in a clinical setting, their precision and their normative intersubject variation must be understood to guide the study design and the interpretation of longitudinal data. In this work, the reproducibility of commonly used graph theoretic measures is investigated, as applied to the structural connectome of healthy adult volunteers. Two datasets are examined, one consisting of 10 subjects scanned twice at one MRI facility and one consisting of five subjects scanned once each at two different facilities using the same imaging platform. Global graph metrics are calculated for unweighed and weighed connectomes, and two levels of granularity of the connectome are evaluated: one based on the 82-node cortical and subcortical parcellation from FreeSurfer and one based on an atlas-free parcellation of the gray-white matter boundary consisting of 1000 cortical nodes. The consistency of the unweighed and weighed edges and the module assignments are also computed for the 82-node connectomes. Overall, the results demonstrate good-to-excellent test-retest reliability for the entire connectome-processing pipeline, including the graph analytics, in both the intrasite and intersite datasets. These findings indicate that measurements of computational network metrics derived from the structural connectome have sufficient precision to be tested as potential biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and monitoring of interventions in neurological and psychiatric diseases.