Quantification of head motion in children during various fMRI language tasks




Head motion during functional MRI scanning can lead to signal artifact, a problem often more severe with children. However, the documentation for the characteristics of head motion in children during various language functional tasks is very limited in the current literature. This report characterizes head motion in children during fMRI as a function of age, sex, and task.


Head motion during four different fMRI language tasks was investigated in a group of 323 healthy children between the age of 5 and 18 years. A repeated measures ANOVA analysis was used to study the impact of age, sex, task, and the interaction of these factors on the motion.


Pediatric subjects demonstrated significantly different amounts of head motion during fMRI when different language tasks were used. Word-Picture Matching, the only task that involved visual engagement, suffered the least amount of motion, which was significantly less than in any of the other three tasks; the latter were not significantly different from each other. Further examination revealed that the main effect of language task on motion was significantly affected by age, sex, and their interaction.


Our results suggest that age, sex, and task are all associated with the degree of head motion in children during fMRI experiments. Investigators working with pediatric patients may increase their success by using task components associated with less motion (e.g., visual stimuli), or by using this large scale dataset to estimate the effects of sex and age on motion for planning purposes. Hum Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.