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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Mar;1191:133-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05446.x.

How reliable are the results from functional magnetic resonance imaging?

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Department of Psychology, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is one of the most important methods for in vivo investigation of cognitive processes in the human brain. Within the last two decades, an explosion of research has emerged using fMRI, revealing the underpinnings of everything from motor and sensory processes to the foundations of social cognition. While these results have revealed the potential of neuroimaging, important questions regarding the reliability of these results remain unanswered. In this paper, we take a close look at what is currently known about the reliability of fMRI findings. First, we examine the many factors that influence the quality of acquired fMRI data. We also conduct a review of the existing literature to determine if some measure of agreement has emerged regarding the reliability of fMRI. Finally, we provide commentary on ways to improve fMRI reliability and what questions remain unanswered. Reliability is the foundation on which scientific investigation is based. How reliable are the results from fMRI?

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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