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Neuroimage. 2006 Feb 1;29(3):1000-6. Epub 2005 Sep 1.

Long-term test-retest reliability of functional MRI in a classification learning task.

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Department of Psychology, Franz Hall Box 951563, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Functional MRI is widely used for imaging the neural correlates of psychological processes and how these brain processes change with learning, development and neuropsychiatric disorder. In order to interpret changes in imaging signals over time, for example, in patient studies, the long-term reliability of fMRI must first be established. Here, eight healthy adult subjects were scanned on two sessions, 1 year apart, while performing a classification learning task known to activate frontostriatal circuitry. We show that behavioral performance and frontostriatal activation were highly concordant at a group level at both time-points. Furthermore, intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs), which index the degree of correlation between subjects at different time-points, were high for behavior and for functional activation. ICC was significantly higher within the network recruited by learning than outside that network. We conclude that fMRI can have high long-term test-retest reliability, making it suitable as a biomarker for brain development and neurodegeneration.

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