A posteriori model validation for the temporal order of neural directed functional connectivity maps is rare. This is striking because models that require sequential independence among residuals are regularly implemented. The aim of the current study was (a) to apply to directed functional connectivity maps of functional magnetic resonance imaging data an a posteriori model validation procedure (i.e., white noise tests of one-step-ahead prediction errors combined with decision criteria for revising the maps based upon Lagrange Multiplier tests), and (b) to demonstrate how the procedure applies to single-subject simulated, single-subject task-related, and multi-subject resting state data. Directed functional connectivity was determined by the unified structural equation model family of approaches in order to map contemporaneous and first order lagged connections among brain regions at the group- and individual-levels while incorporating external input, then white noise tests were run. Findings revealed that the validation procedure successfully detected unmodeled sequential dependencies among residuals and recovered higher order (greater than one) simulated connections, and that the procedure can accommodate task-related input. Findings also revealed that lags greater than one were present in resting state data: With a group-level network that contained only contemporaneous and first order connections, 44% of subjects required second order, individual-level connections in order to obtain maps with white noise residuals. Results have broad methodological relevance (e.g., temporal validation is necessary after directed functional connectivity analyses because the presence of unmodeled higher order sequential dependencies may bias parameter estimates) and substantive implications (e.g., higher order lags may be common in resting state data).
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