Measuring functional connectivity from fMRI recordings is important in understanding processing in cortical networks. However, because the brain's connection pattern is complex, currently used methods are prone to producing false functional connections. We introduce differential covariance analysis, a new method that uses derivatives of the signal for estimating functional connectivity. We generated neural activities from dynamical causal modeling and a neural network of Hodgkin-Huxley neurons and then converted them to hemodynamic signals using the forward balloon model. The simulated fMRI signals, together with the ground-truth connectivity pattern, were used to benchmark our method with other commonly used methods. Differential covariance achieved better results in complex network simulations. This new method opens an alternative way to estimate functional connectivity.