Bridging the Gap: Dynamic Causal Modeling and Granger Causality Analysis of Resting State Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Sahil Bajaj, Bhim M. Adhikari, Karl J. Friston, Mukesh Dhamala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Granger causality (GC) and dynamic causal modeling (DCM) are the two key approaches used to determine the directed interactions among brain areas. Recent discussions have provided a constructive account of the merits and demerits. GC, on one side, considers dependencies among measured responses, whereas DCM, on the other, models how neuronal activity in one brain area causes dynamics in another. In this study, our objective was to establish construct validity between GC and DCM in the context of resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We first established the face validity of both approaches using simulated fMRI time series, with endogenous fluctuations in two nodes. Crucially, we tested both unidirectional and bidirectional connections between the two nodes to ensure that both approaches give veridical and consistent results, in terms of model comparison. We then applied both techniques to empirical data and examined their consistency in terms of the (quantitative) in-degree of key nodes of the default mode. Our simulation results suggested a (qualitative) consistency between GC and DCM. Furthermore, by applying nonparametric GC and stochastic DCM to resting-state fMRI data, we confirmed that both GC and DCM infer similar (quantitative) directionality between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), the medial prefrontal cortex, the left middle temporal cortex, and the left angular gyrus. These findings suggest that GC and DCM can be used to estimate directed functional and effective connectivity from fMRI measurements in a consistent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-661
Number of pages10
JournalBrain connectivity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Granger causality
  • dynamic causal modeling
  • effective connectivity
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • resting state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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