Brain Topography

, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 801–807 | Cite as

Head Motion Parameters in fMRI Differ Between Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease Versus Elderly Control Subjects

  • Sven HallerEmail author
  • Andreas U. Monsch
  • Jonas Richiardi
  • Frederik Barkhof
  • Reto W. Kressig
  • Ernst W. Radue
Original Paper


Motion artifacts are a well-known and frequent limitation during neuroimaging workup of cognitive decline. While head motion typically deteriorates image quality, we test the hypothesis that head motion differs systematically between healthy controls (HC), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD) and consequently might contain diagnostic information. This prospective study was approved by the local ethics committee and includes 28 HC (age 71.0 ± 6.9 years, 18 females), 15 aMCI (age 67.7 ± 10.9 years, 9 females) and 20 AD (age 73.4 ± 6.8 years, 10 females). Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3T included a 9 min echo-planar imaging sequence with 180 repetitions. Cumulative average head rotation and translation was estimated based on standard fMRI preprocessing and compared between groups using receiver operating characteristic statistics. Global cumulative head rotation discriminated aMCI from controls [p < 0.01, area under curve (AUC) 0.74] and AD from controls (p < 0.01, AUC 0.73). The ratio of rotation z versus y discriminated AD from controls (p < 0.05, AUC 0.71) and AD from aMCI (p < 0.05, AUC of 0.75). Head motion systematically differs between aMCI/AD and controls. Since motion is not random but convoluted with diagnosis, the higher amount of motion in aMCI and AD as compared to controls might be a potential confounding factor for fMRI group comparisons. Additionally, head motion not only deteriorates image quality, yet also contains useful discriminatory information and is available for free as a “side product” of fMRI data preprocessing.


AD MCI Dementia MRI FMRI Motion Head motion 



Alzheimer disease


Amnestic mild cognitive impairment


Area under the curve


Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Healthy control


Mini mental state


Magnetic resonance imaging


Positron emission tomography


Resting-state fMRI


Receiver operating characteristic



We thank all volunteers and patients for participating in this study. This study was supported, in part, by a grant of the VELUX Foundation


The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. No current external funding sources for this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Haller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andreas U. Monsch
    • 2
  • Jonas Richiardi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Frederik Barkhof
    • 5
  • Reto W. Kressig
    • 6
  • Ernst W. Radue
    • 7
  1. 1.Service Neuro-diagnostique et Neuro-interventionnel, Department of Imaging and Medical InformaticsUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGeneva 14Switzerland
  2. 2.Memory Clinic, University Center for Medicine of Aging BaselFelix Platter HospitalBaselSwitzerland
  3. 3.Functional Imaging in Neuropsychiatric Disorders Laboratory, Department of Neurology and Neurological SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Laboratory for NeuroImaging of Cognition, Department of Neurosciences and Departement of NeurologyUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Neuroscience Campus AmsterdamVU University Medical CentreAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  6. 6.University Center for Medicine of Aging BaselFelix Platter HospitalBaselSwitzerland
  7. 7.Medical Image Analysis Center MIACUniversity Hospitals of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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