Skip to Main Content
A common method of increasing hemodynamic response (SNR) in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is to average signal timecourses across voxels. This technique is potentially problematic because the hemodynamic response may vary across the brain. Such averaging may destroy significant features in the temporal evolution of the fMRI response that stem from either differences in vascular coupling to neural tissue or actual differences in the neural response between two averaged voxels. Two novel techniques are presented in this paper in order to aid in an improved SNR estimate of the hemodynamic response while preserving statistically significant voxel-wise differences. The first technique is signal subspace estimation for periodic stimulus paradigms that involves a simple thresholding method. This increases SNR via dimensionality reduction. The second technique that we call clustered components analysis is a novel amplitude-independent clustering method based upon an explicit statistical data model. It includes an unsupervised method for estimating the number of clusters. Our methods are applied to simulated data for verification and comparison to other techniques. A human experiment was also designed to stimulate different functional cortices. Our methods separated hemodynamic response signals into clusters that tended to be classified according to tissue characteristics.