Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI) is being widely used for charting brain connectivity and dynamics in healthy and diseased brains. However, the resting state paradigm allows an unconstrained fluctuation of brain arousal, which may have profound effects on resting-state fMRI signals and associated connectivity/dynamic metrics. Here, we review current understandings of the relationship between resting-state fMRI and brain arousal, in particular the effect of a recently discovered event of arousal modulation on resting-state fMRI. We further discuss potential implications of arousal-related fMRI modulation with a focus on its potential role in mediating spurious correlations between resting-state connectivity/dynamics with physiology and behavior. Multiple hypotheses are formulated based on existing evidence and remain to be tested by future studies.
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