Send to

Choose Destination
Front Hum Neurosci. 2012 May 3;6:119. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00119. eCollection 2012.

Improving standards in brain-behavior correlation analyses.

Author information

Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (CCNi), Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow Glasgow, UK.


Associations between two variables, for instance between brain and behavioral measurements, are often studied using correlations, and in particular Pearson correlation. However, Pearson correlation is not robust: outliers can introduce false correlations or mask existing ones. These problems are exacerbated in brain imaging by a widespread lack of control for multiple comparisons, and several issues with data interpretations. We illustrate these important problems associated with brain-behavior correlations, drawing examples from published articles. We make several propositions to alleviate these problems.


Pearson correlation; Spearman correlation; confidence intervals; multiple comparisons; multivariate statistics; outliers; robust statistics; skipped correlation

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center