Limits to the generalizability of resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of youth: An examination of ABCD Study® baseline data


This study examined how resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) data quality and availability relate to clinical and sociodemographic variables within the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. A sample of participants with an adequate sample of quality baseline rs-fMRI data containing low average motion (framewise displacement ≤ 0.15; low-noise; n = 4,356) was compared to a sample of participants without an adequate sample of quality data and/or containing high average motion (higher-noise; n = 7,437) using Chi-squared analyses and t-tests. A linear mixed model examined relationships between clinical and sociodemographic characteristics and average head motion in the sample with low-noise data. Relative to the sample with higher-noise data, the low-noise sample included more females, youth identified by parents as non-Hispanic white, and youth with married parents, higher parent education, and greater household incomes (ORs = 1.32–1.42). Youth in the low-noise sample were also older and had higher neurocognitive skills, lower BMIs, and fewer externalizing and neurodevelopmental problems (ds = 0.12–0.30). Within the low-noise sample, several clinical and demographic characteristics related to motion. Thus, participants with low-noise rs-fMRI data may be less representative of the general population and motion may remain a confound in this sample. Future rs-fMRI studies of youth should consider these limitations in the design and analysis stages in order to optimize the representativeness and clinical relevance of analyses and results.

Brain Imaging and Behavior